Welcome to another installment of “What We’re Playing.” All of our Barbie posts kept us busy for a while, but now we’re back to the regularly scheduled programming of other great (and not so great) games. We’ve been busy catching up on some older titles, checking out the new installations of titles, and being pleasantly surprised. What have you all been playing this summer?
Cathryn is playing The Sims 4: Get to Work Expansion
Electronic Arts / Maxis & The Sims Studio
Base: September 2nd 2014, Expansion: March 31st 2015
For my birthday, my brother sent me the Get to Work expansion that I had been not-so-subtly eyeing up when I visited family a few months ago. As the first real expansion, I’m happy to say that the new functions are very entertaining. Get to Work introduces us to Special Careers, Retail Businesses, and two new skills – Baking and Photography. It also gives us ALIENS! Yay! Eager to try it, I made a pair of Alien Sims, disguised them as normal Sims, and set to work with my first Special Career: Medical. Special Careers are separate to the traditional ones. Rather than your Sim disappearing all day off to their job, you follow them into a new workspace, where you guide them on completing job tasks and climbing the promotional ladder.
This means you can help treat patients in the Medical field, solve cases and stop crime as a Detective, or discover new breakthroughs (and ALIENS!) as a Scientist. I don’t suggest having multiple members of the same household doing the Special Careers at the same time. It doesn’t work well, and when playing one of the jobs, you’ll find your other Sims skipped work because you weren’t there to tell them to go without you! I decided my alien man would be a Doctor–what better way to learn about humans? I have to say–doing the Special Careers is fun. In fact, it might be more fun than the base part of the game. It gives you something active to do, with a lot quicker payoff in terms of tasks and promotions, than just “living” in the base game. Also, my male Alien sim kept getting abducted by aliens and is now pregnant. Because I like drama, I then had him Try for Baby with his female Alien sim roomie. I now have two pregnant aliens, who pee and eat constantly. So that’s a thing.
Additional Note: Male Alien Sim went into labour. The game asked me for three names names and then appeared to freeze. I chalked this up as bugs from using script mods. Upon turning them off, the same thing happened again. While googling and leaving the game, I noticed it had resumed itself from freezing. The three names was no bug–he had triplets. Well then…
Wendy is finally playing Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)
I’ve done it! I’ve finally made the final step into full on geekhood! I have started playing tabletop games! Well, sort of. There aren’t actually any tables or tops involved, since we’re using roll20.net to play virtually across the continent. My nephew, who’s fairly new to the process is the Dungeon Master (DM), and my good friends have joined me. This is important because STRANGER DANGER would prevent me from trying things out otherwise. Two of the players are DnD veterans, while myself and one other are utter noobs with so many questions. But thankfully, everyone is patient and has a great sense of humour. My nephew helped me put together my character–a forest gnome ranger named Celkini Puddlesteel with a rat familiar named Ben. Math is not my favourite subject, but I’m slowly coming to understand the processes of rolling for stats and advantage and disadvantage etc. I can’t imagine what it’s like on the other end with my nephew DMing, but so far, I’m understanding the basics. Having played several video games–some of which, like Balder’s Gate: Dark Alliance, are based in the DnD realms, I already had a working knowledge of things like stats and critical hits, but the computer worked out all the details behind the scenes. Now I can see it up close and personal and cry when I roll a pathetic 4 and miss an attack. I suspect we’re not going to advance very fast because of all the questions and the giggling that occurs in our Sunday night sessions, but thus far, the experience has been great and the shiny new handbook looks wonderful on my geeky bookshelves.
Carly Smith is playing Life is Strange Episode 4: Dark Room
Dontnod Entertainment, Square Enix
Episode 4: July 28, 2015
PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
I’ve been playing Life is Strange since the first episode released. I was initially intrigued because it was a story about a teenage girl in a school setting; word of time travel made go, “hmmm, I wonder how they’ll handle that plot-breaking trope.” And even though Life is Strange has made some missteps, Episode 4 feels like it’s the strongest episode so far. Generally with each episode, I find a lot of things I liked with some complaints about the game’s “puzzles” or character writing. Episode 4 commits to many of the plot threads hinted at in early episodes and also manages to throw in a big surprise at the end—and yet, there was plenty of skilled foreshadowing pointing to it!
I have to warn anyone getting into Life is Strange, however. Episode 2 involves bullying and a student attempting suicide. Episode 4 addresses assisted suicide and the kidnapping and abuse of other female classmates. Normally, I’m disgusted with fiction that depicts women being harmed. Even from the first episode, it was becoming clear the horrible things in Arcadia Bay were mostly happening to women. I was skeptical how Dontnod would write about this sensitive topic, but I think with this episode they showed how terrifying it is being a woman and going to a party. Playing as a teenage girl and checking in on female classmates to warn them of a dangerous male student and making sure they haven’t been drinking (one student even asserts she wouldn’t even trust a glass of water around this guy) eases my worries of this game developer using sexual assault as drama. I have no idea if the men playing Life is Strange will fully empathize with Max and how women have to look out for each other because of predatory men, but I hope they can at least get some sense of how scary and real this is.
in the previous episodes often task the player with finding certain items, walking around in the dark or around a junkyard sorting through clutter. Thankfully, this episode focuses more on its story, and when it wants the player to get through a sticky situation, it’s more about exploring the environment and using Max’s time manipulation in a way that feels more interesting. Some puzzles used no time shenanigans and were all about reading comprehension; Max gets to be a super sleuth as she begins solving the mysteries around town.
The game does stray into some absurd territory when Max and Chloe decide not to call the police when finding evidence of some horrifying crap! And why is their school not in serious trouble for allowing students to host a party with alcohol on campus?
There’s only one more episode to go, and I am eagerly awaiting the finale!