I told myself that in 2023 I would play more from my backlog and finish up some mostly-done games. So far, I have played only new games and events from my staple MMOs. I would like to believe that the new games I played in January were solid experiences. Both Signals and Shadows Over Loathing were a great use of my time. I dabbled in The Outer Wilds but I need more hands-on time with it before I feel like I can talk about it. Cozy Grove also made its way into my daily rotation but I think it deserves a dedicated post, so more on that later.
Why the hell do I like resource management games so much? I finish one and move onto the next pretty quick. Signals appealed to me for a few reasons. First was the fact that resource values fluctuate due to the markets. Making sure you’re harvesting a wide variety of materials is the best way to keep a balanced portfolio. If you only build iron harvesting machines and the price drops, you won’t be able to enjoy the next best part of the game. Which is fueling up the space jet and discovering new planets! Each planet features differing elements, and some of them are crucial to achieving your ultimate goal.
The primary story of the game revolves around researching strange obelisks. In order to do so, you need to: 1) build housing for the researchers; 2) provide food and water for them; 3) build the research station; 4) and find the correct supplies needed to complete said studies. It’s a planetary hop, skip, and hyper speed jump from one to another as you search for obelisks and materials. It’s on the shorter side; took me 6.5 hours to finish the six chapter story. A solid performance for a $10 Steam game. Not sure I would be too happy if I had spent more than the asking price.
Challenges make for some replayability. Since my focus in these sorts of building games has always been the core game mechanic, I dabbled a little in the challenges but ultimately I was finished with the game. I had my fun – and it was fun – but time had come to move on to something else.
Shadows Over Loathing
After falling completely in love with West of Loathing‘s pun-heavy stick figure game, picking up Shadows Over Loathing was the only logical thing to do. Sticking (haha) with the same design elements and a familiar structure made it far too easy for me to mosey on over. This time around it was all about finding out what happened to my eccentric uncle and saving the world from an Eldritch horror. I went to college, time traveled via an old-timey outhouse, cleansed cursed relics, and experienced some trippy dreams. Updates to this version include access to a variety of companions that you can swap out, side-hustles like running errands for the mob and earning side-Meat from the speakeasy next door.
SOL features more locales and side quests. There was even an unexpected tie-in to WOL which I absolutely loved. Seriously, why the hell did it make me so giddy when I encountered it? I’ll never know the answer. And it’s not like sequels have never referenced previous installments before. But the bestest thing ever? There is an arachnophobia setting! You can turn off spider enemies! Which works amazingly well, unless you make the mistake of choosing one of the college classes about battling that specifically has spiders in it. I made that mistake. You don’t have to.(Conversely, there is also arachnophilia if you REALLY love spiders, but only weirdos love spiders.)
So what did I do once I finished Shadows Over Loathing? Why, I immediately registered an account for the team’s original Loathing game, Kingdom of Loathing. It’s a text-based browser game that’s free to play. There’s just something about the writing that keeps me coming back to this series. If they made a third RPG adventure it would be an instant purchase. Ridiculous, light-hearted fun is something we all need in our lives and the Loathing games are just that.
All in all, not too shabby for a January. A few new games released that I am hoping to pick up eventually, namely Children of Silentown that just popped out of nowhere. Inkulnati and Dead Space are other late-month additions I’ll be hoping to spend time with soon. Fingers crossed I can free up the time (and hard drive space).