September 2023 media
Starfield: It’s hard to get your hands around Starfield because it’s big along so many different axes; after 90+ hours my best take is “it contains a good game.” The shipbuilding and the space combat and the outpost management were all decent at best, and I found the meat-and-potatoes exploration uncharacteristically dull—the planets feel like procgen slurry. The main story and faction quests were strong, but sadly their impact was diluted by straying off the beaten path, not enhanced by it. I can appreciate Starfield’s ambition, but I hope the next Elder Scrolls lets it be and hews closer to Skyrim.
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails: This action-RPG-platformer is probably my favorite of Falcom’s weird spinoff games, and I’m glad to finally have a legit version so I don’t have to resort to a PSP emulator and a fan translation patch. Despite its title, the Trails connections here are only proper nouns and obscure references; it plays closer to the Ys and Zwei games. Over a decade after its original release it holds up pretty well, and it’s right in that sweet spot of amazing Falcom soundtracks.
The Tree in our backyard: This blog post by Alexis Madrigal is in the same broad category as that bridge article I wrote about last month, which seems to be an emerging favorite of mine: indulging some minor curiosity and doing the legwork to find answers about it. That said, the feeling is quite different: it has a more personal and introspective bent, with a focus on the meaning of the results than the absurdity of the search. (Also, if the bridge one felt like a bit much, this is a breezy 1500 words.)