In the last entry of my gaming backlog countdown I went from 40 games to 35, and checked off four games I played on my PC, plus one I played on my PlayStation 4.
This time I’m going back in time, to the PS3, to play the HD re-release of the first three Sly Cooper games, first released to the PS2. After that I’m returning to the PS4, to play ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ and ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
The first Sly game was a 3D platformer. Very reminiscent of the Crash Bandicoot games, but with some stealth elements thrown in to mix up the formula.
It’s a short, well-designed game with fun levels and a few cool bosses.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves
Sly 2 removed quite a lot of what I enjoyed about the first game in the series.
The game no longer had a bunch of well-crafted levels. Instead it has a few open worlds in which several different missions take place.
This leads to a lot of backtracking across the same area, which was quite boring at times. This feels almost as a way the developers cut some corners to get the game out on time. It came out only two years after the first one, after all.
The game also changed how much of a beating the enemies could handle before going down.
In the first game you just had to avoid their attacks, so you could get one good hit in to take them down.
In the sequel, the enemies can soak in several hits before going down, which leads to a little fist-fight each time you get in a confrontation. That would be fine, if the combat system in this game was not so god-damn boring!
One good thing to come out of this is that this encouraged me to be more stealthy, to avoid getting in boring fights. Not sure that was how they intended it, but hey, it worked!
Sly 2 is a much less focused game than Sly 1. But there is still a lot to love about it.
While it does bug me a bit that most of the missions take place in the same areas over and over again, a lot of those missions are quite fun to play.
The heists the characters tries to pull are always inventive. And it is great to see a plan coming together, after setting up all elements needed for the plan to succeed.
The game is also fantastically written, and easily made me fall in love with the Cooper Gang.
It does not surprise me that there is a relatively new Sly Cooper television series out there now. Some of the things I enjoyed the most about the game-series would probably work just as well in a non-interactive medium like television.
Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
Sly 3 is a direct continuation of Sly 2’s design. But it is so expertly polished that I enjoyed this game way more than I enjoyed the second game in the series.
There are more characters to control, which means more variation in gameplay.
Towards the end of the game there is a very well-crafted pirate mini-game that I enjoyed a lot. And even later, as one of the last things to do in the game, there was a long linear platforming level that hearkened back to Sly 1’s core gameplay loop. I loved it!
The ending of this game felt like an end for the series. And it was probably meant to be, as this was the last Sly Cooper game developed by Sucker Punch Productions. There exists a fourth game developed by another studio, but I think I’ve had my fill of thieving raccoon. At least for now.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
This is an excellently crafted first-person shooter. It is set in an alter version of the 1960s, in a world where Nazi Germany won World War II.
The game is great at making you feel like an awesome one-man Nazi-killing army. You can dual wield virtually every weapon found in the game, and I spent quite a lot of time running into rooms filled with Nazi soldiers, gunning them down with a shotgun in each of my hands. The stealth mechanic is also fun, so I had a lot of fun sneaking around and stabbing Nazis in the back.
Even more importantly, the game is great at reminding you why the Nazis deserve every pain you can inflict on them. As we have seen in the last few years, not everyone remembers how horrible this movement was, or why people identifying with them should be shunned.
The game is an adrenaline filled power fantasy. But it also feels respectful of the victims of the real-world Nazis of history. Quite a feat for a game with a level set on a Nazi moon-base, where everyone wields laser weaponry.
What Remains of Edith Finch
When I first laid out my plans for this Gaming Backlog Countdown series of blog posts, I stated my intentions of playing this game while Twitch streaming. This is a relatively short game (2-3 hours). So it felt like a good choice for my first try at live-streaming.
So I started streaming the game, and all in all felt that things were going quite well. I was probably not talking as much as I should have been. But I was able to find fun or interesting things to say every now and then.
Then, as I was getting to the end of the game, I suddenly got an error message. It was informing me, hours too late, that the stream had failed to connect.
I did end up streaming the last 15-20 minutes of the game, but I don’t think it’s worth sharing the recording here. Still, I do think it went quite well, so I may end up streaming something else in the future.
As for the game itself, I loved it!
Such a beautiful meditation on imagination and loss.
I found it particularly interesting how Edith Finch’s mother had closed down the rooms of different family members who had died.
It was a great metaphor, a geographical representation of shutting painful memories out of ones mind. This metaphor is something that would not work anywhere near as well in any other media. I needed to move around in that space myself for that realization to hit me as hard as it did.
I now have 30 games left on my gaming backlog list!
Next up: Gaming Backlog Countdown: 25!
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