In Rays of the Light: Weird but Oddly Good (Review)

First off, let me say that I’m switching up my posts this week and doing my gaming post today and writing on Wednesday. The reason for this slight schedule change is that – if you didn’t already know – my next book Blindsighted will be released on Wednesday, so I’ll be doing a special post all about that.

Now that’s out of the way, let me get back to why we’re here; In Rays of the Light.

In Rays of the Light is what has been termed a “First-person meditative quest” – which I would say sounds about right. It was released relatively recently on 21st March 2021 for PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and XBOX One.

You start the game in a room in front of a TV with static displayed on it and expected to figure something out – I’m still not sure what…

There is no tutorial that tells you what the controls are; you’re pretty much just left to figure it out for yourself. When leaving the starting room, you are left to explore an empty and overgrown building and its surrounding area. There are strange messages written on the walls throughout the building, which only serves to weird you out that little bit more.

Although at one point you pick up a piece of pipe and get yourself ready to bash something’s brains in, there is no combat. Nothing will jump out at you – although there are a couple of dramatic stings of music followed by flashes of shadows that I’ll admit made me jump.

You’re free to explore the areas, finding keys and other bits and pieces to help you solve puzzles and get to the end of the game. There are also several notes that you can pick up and read and, along with cutscenes that play out, tell you more of the story.

I don’t want to give too much away – mainly because I’m still not sure what happened – but the game concludes with some bizarre occurrences that might leave you scratching your head and asking, “What the hell was that all about?”

In Rays of the Light isn’t a huge game, and if you only play it through once, it probably won’t take you any longer than maybe 2 hours to complete it. If like me, you wanted to get the platinum, this requires a second playthrough, but that will only take around 30 minutes as you can pretty much just run through it, especially if you’re just played it through once.

We picked this game up for around £7, and honestly, it was worth the money – although I wouldn’t pay more for it. It’s a decent way to spend a couple of hours and, in the most part, is pretty relaxing – at least until the last third or so of the game.

I don’t think it will be a game that I go back to at any point as I’ve seen pretty much all it has to offer, and although I still had questions at the end of it, I feel like I had a rough idea of what the developers were trying to say. I’m going to give In Rays of the Light a ⭐️⭐️⭐️. It was alright for what it was, but there wasn’t much to it. I’d say if you want a little game that you can just run through (especially if you want to get an easy platinum), I’d say give it a go.

Trophies: Yay or Nay?

To platinum, or not to platinum. That is the question – well, it’s not really it’s just a nice intro to a blog about trophy hunting. For ease of typing I’m going to generalise and call them all trophies. Don’t come at me saying the Xbox doesn’t have trophies, because we all know they’re the same thing.

Trophies have been around for a while now, whether you play Playstation, Xbox, Steam or even mobile games. You can choose to ignore them, collect them through general play and then forget about them, or specifically spend your time hunting for them.

I asked my followers on Twitter what their thoughts on trophies were;

Through my time gaming since they’ve been about, I’ve done pretty much all of them. Some games I play through just to get through them, others I will spend a bit more time going through and doing the extra quests or missions, and some I play to death and try to get the elusive ultra rare trophies.

For me, there’s a time and a place for trophy hunting. There are some games I just wanted to finish, ones I’m not really inclined to play any further past the last mission. But then there are some where having trophies adds that little bit of extra playability.

I don’t generally go into a game looking at what trophies it has, or how easy/difficult they may be. Some games I would play again regardless, so having the extra trophies to get is a great way to enjoy more of the game that you may not generally have seen the first time round.

I have some platinum trophies that were easy – like the ones from the Tell Tale games – but I also have some that were harder to get and required a slog – Skyrim, Death Stranding and 2064: Read Only Memories.

Of course, some games are easier to get all the trophies are than others. I’ve seen people looked down on because the only platinum or 100% games they had were the ones that were fairly easy to get through a single playthrough. This makes no sense to me. What people choose to get or not get is completely up to them, and shaming them saying that their achievements are just easy is a bit pointless and just seems like you’re being a bit of a dickhead.

Having said this though, for a long time I would compare my Gamerscore/trophy count with other people and try to beat them. It became a bit of an obsession of mine, constantly playing the same games over and over again until I got the rarer trophies, just so that I could be higher than people I’d never even met. Eventually I realised that this was a bit silly, and slowly started to not worry about it so much. Trophies are a nice thing to get, but it shouldn’t be the reason why I play games. I was there to enjoy myself and being that competitive made it far less enjoyable. But as I said above, I still like to get some rare trophies, but if I’m not having fun then what’s the point?

Myself and Alex do compete a little bit, but we also help each other to get some trophies. Some games I’m better at than her and some she’s better at than me – damn you Spyro! It’s a fun thing for us to do together in games that ordinarily may only be single player.

I don’t know if it says something about the quality of today’s games, if the only reason you go back and play them is to get trophies. I go back to many old games that I played growing up before trophies in games were even a thing. They don’t lose anything because they lack this element but I can understand why some people don’t like to go back and play these types of games, after all what are they getting out of it?

I see this kind of thought process going on with consoles like the Nintendo Switch. You can play through a game but you don’t have anything to show for it so it’s like you didn’t play it…right? I mean, what’s the point in playing something if you can say, “Hey, look at these trophies I got while playing this game. I told you I played it, here’s the proof.” I find this mentality odd. I play games for me. Not so I can show people I’ve never met what games I’ve been playing. Yes, I talk about what I’m playing, but in the end, I’m playing it because I enjoy it. If the game happens to have a trophy that shows I completed a certain bit in a certain way then that’s just something for me.

How do you view trophies? Do you spend your time getting them or just get what you get and not bother with the others? I’d find it interesting to see what other people do.

Erica – Live Action Gameplaying (Review)

Erica is an FMV (Full Motion Video) interactive game release on the PS4 in August 2019.

The game follows titular character, Erica, as she battles nightmares from her childhood and tries to unravel the truth about her families mysterious occult past as she’s taken to a strange hospital that her father founded. You control Erica via multiple-choice dialogue options and interactive elements in the scenes.

Erica is an interesting game and combines the choice in the story of Telltale-like games with full video and live cast. It’s a good idea in theory and if you just play it through it’s a decent enough game.

Unfortunately, though, there several issues that I feel could have been worked on a little more.

First off, continuity. There are so many continuity errors in this game; it’s unbelievable. Some can be forgiven, but the sheer number of them just can’t be. They range from blood appearing, disappearing and reappearing between scenes, to clothes changing without any time for them too.

Second, the acting. Now I’m all for a bad movie with poor acting. But some of the acting in Erica is just so bad it’s not even funny. I don’t know whether it’s just how the scenes are put together with the choices but a lot of the time they only don’t match up properly. The actors may well be better in other things, but there’s just something wrong in this game.

The game can either be controlled via the touchpad on the Dualshock controller or with an app that can be downloaded to your phone. This again is a good idea in theory. I found that when using the controller the touchpad was a little too sensitive – there’s no way to adjust this – so trying to hit the mark on screen when needed, at times, is quite tricky. The controls work a little better on the app, and it gives you a greater range for swiping. The problem with using the app is that it doesn’t half drain your phone battery so unless you can play while having it plugged in, you’re a little bit limited with how long you can play for.

If you’re trying to go for the platinum trophy on this game, be prepared to play the game at least 5 times – and that’s if you follow a guide. If you’re just winging it – like I did on my first playthrough – you may have to do more than that. It’s a slog and a big one at that. Although if you’re committed, you can probably get it in a day.

All in all, Erica is a reasonably enjoyable game despite its faults. But unfortunately, once you notice things like the continuity issues does mar your playing experience. It could have been so much better, but for what it is, it’s not bad. I hope there are more games like this to come – as long as they’re produced a little better. For me, the game deserves a high rating for what it’s trying to achieve, but it does fall a bit flat, so I just can’t bring myself to give it higher than ⭐⭐⭐.

Moonlighter – Sales and Slashing (A Review)

Last year we discovered a new game; Moonlighter.

We watched a trailer for this delightful little dungeon crawling shopkeeper game and straight away we knew that it was our kind of game. It was reasonably cheap for a physical copy, so we went ahead and ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was knee-deep in We Happy Few, and although I was really into it and wanted to finish it, (it had been on my ‘to-play’ pile for a long time), I couldn’t wait to get Moonlighter going. Luckily I could stick it in to install and still play We Happy Few for a bit.

Once it was installed I was in there.

When the game starts you find yourself in a dungeon – one that looks like it’s straight out of Zelda: A Link to the Past – you’re in control of the main character Will, and you have to fight your way through a few screens of enemies until you get overwhelmed. At this point, you’re unsure as to whether you’re supposed to fight or just give in so this bit was a cause of much confusion.

When you’re pulled out of the dungeon, you find out that you’re tasked with running your grandfather’s shop Moonlighter, but that Will harbours a secret yearning to become an adventurer and hero.

The way that the game separates the two tasks is quite good, by allowing you to adventure at night and then run your shop during the day – which you need to do, to earn money, to upgrade your gear so you can fight your way through the dungeons.

It’s such a simple premise when you think about it, but it works so well and is extremely enjoyable.

The shop bit is a fun addition to what may have been an average dungeon crawler. Not only do you sell the things you find in the dungeon, but you also have to adjust prices to customer demand and even do tasks for them. It’s all about fine-tuning your selling price and not flooding the market with a particular item. Oh yeah, and there are thieves you need to stop whilst your busy serving customers…bastards.

Along with upgrading your weapons and gear, you can also buy upgrades for your shop to allow you to buy more selling and storage space. There are also several upgrades for the town where your shop is situated, businesses like potion shops and blacksmiths that will help you along your dungeon adventure.

The dungeon side of things is all simple. There are 4 types of dungeons which have various kinds of enemies of varying difficulties. As you complete one dungeon by defeating the boss, the next one opens up to you.

Inside the dungeon, there are a total of 3 floors (including the boss at the end of the third) in which you need to get through. You don’t have to get through them all in one go as you gain a pendant that will allow you to save your progress, leave the dungeon, and then go back later. This is useful as the one thing that you can’t upgrade through the game is the size of the bag you carry that stores the items you pick up through the dungeons. This is good in a way because it makes you think about what you’re picking up and making space for the more valuable items, customer quest items, or things you need for the upgrades.

Throughout most of the game, you’re on your own in the dungeons. But there are eggs that you can pick up, that hatch a little buddy. This buddy will follow you around and help you fight enemies.

We enjoy a good trophy hunt and Moonlighter provides some fun trophies to get, some of them are a little on the hard side due to not being able to save and redo bits. In particular the ones where you have to kill the bosses without being hit; this requires a lot of practice, and another where you have to kill each boss by using your trusty broom for the last hit. The platinum may be just out of reach to all but the seasoned adventure, but if you’re so inclined it does add the extra playability after you’ve finished the main story.

Overall, Moonlighter is excellent. It’s not too taxing and is quite a good stress reliever with its retro graphics, slow pace, and soothing soundtrack. For the price that this game is, it’s well worth it and maybe a bit more. I would definitely give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and recommend it to anyone that asked.

Good News Monday

Yet another Monday hits us in the face like a brick.

I woke up feeling sick and in pain, but as the pain meds kick in and the sickness fades away, I’m left with at least some good to come out of a Monday.

The Next Stage and Creatures are now available on Google Books in 66 countries.

With this new outlet, it means that my books are now available through Amazon, Lulu, Payhip, Apple Books and Google Books. I’m hoping that these distribution channels will mean that more people will be able to read and enjoy them.

I’ll add the new Google links to the Books page of this blog with the others.

Last week I also started a giveaway with the Apple version, I’m going to extend this giveaway until Friday of this week and add in the Google version, so when you enter you can let me know which version you’d prefer to receive a code for.

In other news, I’ve several more reviews in for The Next Stage, and I’m happy to say that the full 5-star rating on Goodreads hasn’t been changed. Everyone seems to really enjoy this book and every time I receive a new review – and it’s another 5 – it makes all the work I put into the book worthwhile and spurs me on to want to get it out to as many people as I can.

As far as the writing goes, I’ve not done a great deal over the past week, that’s to say I’ve done none…

I’m hoping that now I’ve been on these new pain meds for a week that the side effects start to settle down and I can concentrate on things again. The only thing I’ve really been able to do this past week is play Skyrim. That’s not a bad thing, and I got another platinum trophy out of it, but I miss writing, and I want to get back into it as soon as I can. But I also don’t want to write for the sake of it and end up churning out crap.

Once I’ve posted this and update the links and whatnot, I’m going to attempt to do some; I guess time will tell.