February. Shortest month of the year, even in a leap year. That means two to three fewer days of gaming in the month. Most of my gaming this month was spent once more working through my Steam library. Hell, I even only logged into Fallout 76 to grab my free daily items and play the Fasnacht event a couple of times. Kind of helps that I had cleared the season’s scoreboard and was waiting for the next to begin. Alrighty, let’s dive in!
The Long Dark
I will unashamedly purchase all games that take place in Canada. We don’t get to be the featured locale very often, so when it happens, I throw money at it. I kicked off my time with The Long Dark checking out the Survival Mode. I tend to do this when possible so that I can get a handle on some of the game mechanics before hitting up the narrative side. Practice makes perfect(ish). My excursion kicked off in the Milton area of Great Bear. I turned the main house into my base of operations. The gas station was an outpost and rabbit snares littered a small grove just up and around the corner. I picked over all of the buildings in Milton; every home stripped of cloth and long forgotten food. It was now time to dive into the episodic storyline.
Wintermute tells the story of MacKenzie and his ex-wife Astrid, who make a dangerous trip to Great Bear Island in the middle of a pretty brutal Canadian winter. Astrid won’t tell Mac exactly why she needs him to fly her there immediately, so out of loyalty, he loads up his plane and the two set off. The trip takes a hard turn into disaster when an eery magnetic storm, disguised by the Northern Lights, causes the plane to drop from the sky. The two are separated, each pushing to find the other.
You primarily play through Wintermute as MacKenzie, with the exception of Chapter 3 that stars Astrid. Amidst the chaos, most of the inhabitants of Great Bear have fled. When the power went out, they abandoned the vehicles and set out on foot. Only a few people remain. People who refuse to leave, others providing aid, all while a bus load of criminals destined for Blackrock Correctional roam the island. There are so many questions; what caused the storm and why did it act similar to an EMP? Why did the prisoners remain on the island? Was this disaster man-made or is it a LOST kind of situation?
Now that I’ve played through all four available episodes, I can say that I was wrong to have waited so long to play The Long Dark. First off, there is a stellar cast of Canadian voice actors. Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale (aka Commander Shepard from Mass Effect), Elias Toufexis (Adam Jensen in Deus Ex), and David Hayter (Snake? SNAKE!!!!) voice the primary cast. I adore all of them so much. That alone was a huge reason for me putting this game on my wishlist. And they all do such spectacular jobs! Other unique add for the game is the Canadian Heritage filter. If you grew up on Canadian Heritage Moments like I did, you will flip this filter on for a while and enjoy it. Downside is that it can be a little too dark and make some items hard to see.
The game still needs some patchwork, though. In Chapter Three, I was out rescuing some people and carrying them to an open community hall. I would place them on the floor, check on them, and let them get up to 100% condition. Little did I know there were beds that I was supposed to place them on. By the time I learned that and tried to move them, the people could not be moved to the beds. That was definitely frustrating. I was not going to restart the chapter (maybe I will another time), it was off to YouTube to watch a playthrough. Chapter Four also has a major problem affecting one of the side quests. I did make an extra save so that I can go back to run it once it’s patched. Live and learn, right?
And then Annette got back on her building sim bullshit. Surviving Mars is a more recent purchase, ending up on my wishlist thanks to my desire to earn all of the winter Steam sale cards. Again, I started off running through the tutorials and then messing around in sandbox mode. Hitting up story mode with easier challenges broke me into the swing of things. My first run was a bit of a flub; I wasn’t exploring the rest of Mars for new discoveries like I should have. I built too quickly, straining my drones and running out of some materials needed for dome maintenance.
The second run’s been more fruitful. I successfully finished up the Cube mystery with only a couple of buildings sacrificed along the way. Sadly I didn’t build a base camp near enough base metal resources so now I am trying a second settlement to fix that error. It’s rough going. Spending quite a bit importing metal from Earth while bulking up the colonists for each settlement. With each new game started comes more knowledge. The biggest problem I have is booting the game up later in the evening. It’s affecting my bedtime and sleep patterns. Oopsie!
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion
If you’re looking for a fairly quick game to kill an afternoon, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is one way to go. This action adventure game only takes a few hours to complete and isn’t overly demanding. That said, once I hit the fourth boss I did kind of give up on it. Look, I just wasn’t enjoying that entire section of the game. Everything up until that point was a ridiculously fun time. Right down to the blatant JoJo’s joke. Maybe it was the magnetic beans in the kitchen, maybe it was the poor way to swap weapons during a fight. Either way, I was finished helping this Turnip work off his debt to the pretty disreputable (and definitely corrupt) Mayor Onion. This was another game I grabbed during a Steam sale on the recommendation of friends. If I were to officially rate the game it would be around a 6.5 or 7 on my scale.
The Long Dark was the clear winner for me this month. Fingers are crossed that Hinterlands releases Wintermute‘s next chapter in the first half of 2023, but if it takes a little longer I won’t complain. Just fix up those darn issues so I can replay/finish the things I missed.