Welcome to the first edition of “Our Weekend Plans,” where the games writers of InBetweenDrafts get together to share what they’re playing this weekend with you!
We’re firmly in the winter holiday season now, which means it’s time for the rest of the blockbuster AAA titles to finish coming out just in time for gift giving. Thanks to various delays, however, this week that’s pretty much just the meteoric launch God of War Ragnarök on the PlayStation platforms. Originally, diving into this new parenthood simulator was going to be my plan; until I remembered Sony now actually wants seventy dollars for a single game now. That realization gave me just enough pause to remember that Splatoon 3’s tie in Pokémon Splatfest is this weekend. If you’ve never spent time in a Splatfest, it’s the closest thing Nintendo currently has to a real online “event.” Splatfests bring out pretty much every corner of the player base, energizing them with gameplay that isn’t normally seen during normal days and inspiring all kinds of new artwork with the theme of the fest.
My weekend was pretty locked at that point until Friday’s news of Kevin Conroy’s passing hit me like a truck. I just so happened to have Batman: Arkham Asylum installed on my PS5, ironically intending to return to those games sometime soon anyway. I’d forgotten just how much that first Arkham rides on its voice actors’ clout, Conroy in particular. By bringing him and other familiar Batman The Animated Series veterans on, Arkham Asylum is able to kick off in media res without having to establish the small details about Rocksteady’s version of the characters: “Do you recognize Conroy’s iconic performance? Yeah, this version of Batman works about the same way.” It was a good move and a small comfort following the news of his passing away.
This weekend I’ve been diving into the highly anticipated God of War Ragnarök and oh boy am I having a great time. It’s not very often when a video game has such a powerful story that the player goes from reflection to panic to gut-wrenching sadness to navigating the complicated relationship between a tired old man and his teenage son. I’m not even that far into the game and I am already stunned and emotionally exhausted. And the gorgeous visuals and environmental details have made me happy to have my PS5 and LG OLED to play it on. The smooth performance mode lends itself to the brutal and fast-paced action sequences and the beautifully rendered cutscenes. After the wild ride that was God of War (2018), it is a breath of fresh air to be back in control of Kratos and Atreus and figuring out the adventure they have in front of them. If this is only the beginning of the game, I can’t wait to see what else is coming!
From the studio that brought us Absolver, I picked up Sifu after hearing about it months ago and being thoroughly intrigued. So I grabbed it this weekend. The setup was very enticing to me. It has a short, combat- focused campaign; aging you each time you die, but with your combat stats going up, health going down. To cap off the design, there is a literal skill tree growing your abilities in the dojo. It’s a unique presentation, building a very straightforward mission structure that executes world building through gameplay. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was just how effectively Sifu would recreate the essence of kung fu and wuxia films through an exactness, a rhythm, in its control scheme.
Additionally, I can’t believe I duped myself into playing Persona 5 Royal again. I can make as many excuses about the early Black Friday sales that I want. The fact that I’ve purchased this game a second time just because I wondered how I’d like playing a Persona on the go was a palpable enough gamble. After all, it’s how people fell in love with Persona 4 Golden when the PSVita wasn’t a dead platform. Regardless of how overexposed Persona 5 is by this point, it’s undeniable the impact that it had on me in a time when I got to experience it in a bubble throughout 2017. The rebellious drive of my youth during stressful times, the enthusiasm of getting to know the sights and sounds of Tokyo before traveling there myself, the accompaniment of the soundtrack while I wrote on my days off, sitting down on my couch to play even just for a couple hours after an exhaustive workday; the Phantom Thieves got me through and gave me a regular routine when I needed it most. It opened me up to JRPGs, and ever since finishing it I have been starving for a game like it for Switch so I’m not chained to a TV and console to enjoy. Now I can do exactly that and it feels pretty good.
I bought that Atari 50 compilation this weekend, and it was actually released on a physical cart and I was so psyched about it. Is this Cybermorph game as hard to control as you’ve heard? Probably less so because I’m not controlling it with the Jaguar’s awful controller, but more or less, yes it is. The game isn’t outright bad though! It has a lot of good ideas. It’s just aggressively 1993. I will say this though, I am really impressed by the presentation and care that has gone into this compilation. It definitely justifies its existence as more than just yet another reissue of Atari games especially with all the stuff that has never been officially reissued before this, like those Jaguar games and some of the arcade titles.