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Gaming Update: Zombies, Glampires and Seaweed?

For those of you that know anything about me, you'll know my number 1 go-to hobby is gaming. I find video games beyond entertaining, beyond fascinating. They are such an awesome thing to experience when you find the right ones for you, so I decided to take the time today to talk about three in particular that have been taking up more than their fare share of my free time lately...

1 - State of Survival

Now I'll be honest, aside from a few rare gems, I'm not that big of a fan of mobile games. I've tried a lot (and I'm always down to explore more), but I've only ever found maybe a handful that have had real lasting power. Most recently, it was a game called "State of Survival". I downloaded it at random. Hadn't heard anything about it, had no idea what to expect other than the handful of screenshots on its download screen, but I've been hooked since the second I fired it up.

I've tried a lot of city-builder-esque games on my phone. Most of them bore me out of my mind inside a day. I absolutely loathe waiting 4 hours to pickup 15 steel for the building I'm trying to gather 400 for (lookin' at you SimCity), but I digress. Now State of Survival definitely has resource gathering, but that's fine. I friggin' love the Warcraft and Starcraft series's. I'll chop wood all day, but it has to be at a pace that feels like progress. I don't want to be held back by resources, I want to work for the resources so I can progress, so I can feel like I'm accomplishing something, being told to wait until the game's ready for me to get that stupid skyscraper.

State of Survival also has PvP, another trait I rarely like in these games (I've already had someone lay waste to my poor base already without mercy. However, I wasn't left feeling like everything I'd worked for was gone. The game has built in systems to ensure that you can very much get attacked without it completely ruining the experience for you. You lose some resources, you might get attacked by NPC zombies if you leave it burning for too long, but you have something to work with when it's all over, something to keep building with once Mr. Steamroller is done putting you in your place.

The last thing I'll say is that while it has unlockable heroes, the game doesn't leave you feeling like you'll never have them. It may take a while, but there are things you can actively do to try and help your chances. On top of that, they hardly feel necessary. You're not left feeling like you got crushed because you didn't have a legendary hero. You got crushed because you need to spend a little more time building up your base and your forces. Sure, you can give them money to speed things along, to each their own, but it doesn't feel like you won't get to enjoy the game if you don't.

Bottom line: State of Survival has been very addictive and a lot of fun to explore. I'm still learning new things about the game, having a good time supporting my alliance and slaughtering zombies. Plus, I'm doing it all for free! Hard to knock that selling point. If you're a fan of city-builders, real-time strategies or just zombies in general, I would definitely suggest this for those long bus rides or boring lunch breaks that make up far too much of at least my days.

2 - Code Vein

I love Bloodborne. As much frustration as that game as created in me, I often find myself looking back, yearning for one more go through Yarnham only to be immediately reminded of how much that game makes me want to throw my controller straight through my TV. So when I played Code Vein at PAX West last year, I was delighted to find something in a similar vein (no pun intended) that I could explore for the first time. My very thoughtful girlfriend was kind enough to gift it to me for my birthday last month and I gotta say, it hasn't disappointed.

Is Code Vein as good as Bloodborne? Not for me, it isn't. Is it an incredibly satisfying and challenging game? 100% yes.

Code Vein is a very pretty game with a heavily stylized anime feel to it. All the characters proportions are mind-bogglingly ridiculous, their eyes taking up like half their heads, their bodies roughly 70% leg. The character designer is impressive. It lets you not only make a character out of an astounding number of varying options/colors, but you can save each of your designs for later use. Even while you're playing the game, you're able to walk up to a mirror and switch out your looks on the fly, doesn't even have to be the same character. You could make a whole collection of glampires and take a completely different one with you to each zone of the game you explore. Which leads me to my next point...

Code Vein's world is broken up into sections. Unlike other similar games, it's not one continuous world that blows your mind when you unlock a shortcut that magically weaves what felt like a completely unrelated series of pathways back together. However, each place you travel to is more than spacious enough to spend hours running around in, trying to find every item and every route. Some areas feel like straight up mazes that force you to mentally map your path as you go, trying to remember where you haven't been yet while you try out the next walkway you just noticed you could jump down to. By the time you find your next resting point, you're more than ready to take a breather and are grateful to know you don't have to go all the way back to the start any more when you mistime a dodge and get splattered across the wall.

Lastly, Code Vein is just a blast to play. The action is so tight and hectic. The game may not be as challenging as others in its genre, but its no slouch either. Attacks, blocks and dodges have to be timed effectively to avoid getting overwhelmed by just about any enemy. To compensate, the game gives you a blank slate with a vast array of weapons and skills to suit your play style, or to alternate between if a certain enemy has a weakness you haven't been using yet. I hit my first big roadblock up with a boss that was...let's say basically a pole-dancing mermaid vampire. The boss fight seemed almost impossible. No amount of dodging could keep me from getting totally wrecked. I was starting to lose my mind when I remembered that blocking was totally a thing. The boss's attacks were way too quick to dodge successfully enough to win. Once I realized that and stood my ground, I managed to escape with my overly handsome, vampire life intact.

So far, Code Vein has been a solid addition to my gaming catalog. I haven't finished it yet, honestly have no idea how far off I am. The story is a bit out there. I'm still struggling to follow everything the cutscenes have told me about the power of memories or the queen that plunged the world into chaos or the revenants (vampires) farming the last remaining humans for blood, but it's still neat! Honestly haven't had this hard of a time following a vaguely coherent story since the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

3 - Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Swimming Update

I've been having a wonderful freaking time with the latest entry in the Animal Crossing family. I haven't really given my time to any of them since the original, and this entry has been just as addictive as its ancestor ever was for me all those years ago. But just like that entry, the cutesy house decorating only runs on so long before I start getting reeeeeal tired of it.

And now we have...swimming?

There are countless things AC:NH does really friggin' well. Along with that, there are plenty of things I'd like to see it do going forward. Can I invite NPCs into my house? Can I craft more than one fish bait AT. A. TIME?! Can I just have a big old patch that gives my character the ability to actually use 99% of the objects in the game? I want to run on the treadmill, play the video games, swing on the actual swing they already put in the game but it just sits there like Tom Nook glued it together to make sure no one had too much fun!

And yet, we get swimming. I'm of two minds about the swimming. On the one hand, the collector in me is a big fan. I like filling out lists and filling up my museum. Every new month since release (because I don't time travel, that's cheating), I have gone out with renewed vigor to capture every fish and bug I've never seen before and hand them over to Blathers for little more than the satisfaction of a job well done. But swimming is so...incredibly...borrrrring.

I don't expect my awkwardly-proportioned islander is much of an athlete, especially with those things he has in place of his hands. But does he really have to swim that slowly? The drag of putzing around in the waves is both dull and lonely. If the NPCs could go out there to? If there was literally any reason to go swimming OTHER than collecting things, it would have a whole new sense to it. When I'm fishing and chasing bugs, I can just as easily talk to my villagers, shoot down balloons, shake trees. I have options. The minute I'm in the water, that's all gone. The best I can do is give Tom Nook more money to ship me another thing I already own out of my catalog just for it to be delivered the next day.

All in all, Nintendo did a great job with the swimming itself. The animations are flawless. The sea creatures are fascinating. In and of itself, the update was designed just fine. It was also just terribly disappointing. The first time I jumped off the rocks and hit the A button a few times, I knew instantly that this one-trick pony's days were numbered. I do hope Nintendo builds on what they've rolled out. I'd like to see more reasons to go swimming than just to make sure I can't play the rest of the game until I stop swimming, but who can say? Only the all-powerful, all-knowing Nintendo knows what's best. We're just along for the ride.


What games have you been playing lately? Do you have any hidden gems the rest of the world should know about? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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