When I saw AI: The Somnium Files added to Game Pass, I sheeplishly added it to my download queue but more caught up with the new Avengers game that landed about the same time frame. Somium seemed like a game that I might enjoy or be bored of, and I really needed some stress relief at the time. Thus smashing AIM kill bots as an alternative to exploring planet 4546B was my plan. Finally got around to trying it this weekend.

Well within a few minutes of the first “Somnium” with the quirky Aiba made me able to guess which it end of the spectrum it would be. The initial crime scene investigation is about as serious as an icepick stabbed corpse lashed to the merry-go-round. However the Aiba messing with the protangist’s dream is about as serious as smelling a potted plant and it flying up your nose.

The game manages to follow the investigations track fairly well but is peppered with insanity, game and movie references, jokes, and all kinds of quirk characters. I positively love the Boss’s office and her crazy remarks. Having reached the part where Aiba calculates the “Best” way to deal with the goon squad^, and Iris’s Somnium being a Minecraft inspired danceathon to defeat UFOs….oh so cinches it.

If these folks are making another AI/Somnium game, I am so buying it. Unless the murder mystery ends in a way that makes me want to chuck the controller through the screen. Thus far AI: The Somnium Files has been one of the most fun games I’ve played all year, lol.

^ If you weren’t amused at how underwear, porno mags, and a muscle loving bartender fit into resolving a shootout then Aiba’s trick with the fire extinguisher will surely amaze you!

 Signs that I really liked a game: when I’ll buy it on another platform.

Resident Evil 0 was probably on sale when I bought it on Steam. Mostly, I got it because it would be the most like what I grew up with: the original Resident Evil, dual shock, and director’s cut editions. While I had very mixed feelings about Resident Evil HD, since it invalidates everything I remember: I really enjoyed zero. Haven’t cared too much for most of the series since the original trilogy, and had never played zero.

Thus, seeing it on Xbox sale for $5…no brainer. The only real negative from my time with it on Steam was how hard it is to actually hit the giant ass bat monster….lol

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

When encountering it on Xbox, I found the first entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan a superb adventure game. Enough so that after finishing it: I pre-ordered the second entry on the spot. I can understand why they targeted Halloween weekend as the launch for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. The game has a rather gruesome opening prologue before meeting up with the survivors of the bus wreck. It’s content is kind of ideal for Halloween, and I’ve been looking forward to it all month.

My Halloween plans pretty much were eat cake, and play Xbox. ‘Cuz even I need a day off once in a while, lol.

Early on Little Hope feels like things are a bit less heavy on the Quick Time Events (QTEs), given the shift from holy crap, pirates! Over to demons that go bump in the night as the main threat to your lives. Didn’t expect the twist at the end to make such crystal sense of everything that happened, but it was well executed. Whether intentional, or just my own attitude, it made the feeling of having had enough of the demons confronting the characters, and opting for more a aggressive approach: seem rather appropriate to the story. How it impacts the significance of characters surviving, well, made me feel a little less bad about missing a QTE and losing one on the way to the house. Some aspects of the gameplay may take advantages of people who paid attention in Man of Medan, or just be ready to oopsie you the same way over; it’s hard to tell.
Sounds like there are plans for a third game in The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes. I’ll probably be nabbing that when it comes out. Definitely a very fun game series.


I kind of like the contrast these two machines offer.

That the Series X targets 2160p60 is pretty straight forward. Having a matching Ultra HD Blu-Ray drive is nice value, much as my original One’s Full HD Blu-ray drive or my PlayStation 2’s DVD player was handy on the wallet.

So in essence if you wanna have the biggest horse power: buy the Series X. If you just wanna have fun or save money: get the Series S.

Seems the Series S basically targets Full HD televisions. Enough oompth to for a 1440p60 target should make anyone’s 1080p HDTV happy whether the resources are pumped into eye candy or only milked for PC monitors in that resolution. You’re not going to find tons of consumer oriented 1440p QHD television.

My main curiosity, I think will be what difference the differences in compute power bring.

Especially as time goes on and on, and games take greater advantage of modern hardware. The focus on the hardware being more like a feature profile has been a positive for the One/One S and One X bit. I expect that it will continue with the Series S and Series X, however long the earlier consoles remain good enough for general gaming. I like the idea of “Xbox games” that scale to your console more than I like the idea of “Generations” and backwards compatibility. Even more so given the relationship to Windows.

Given the goal of being cheaper: cutting both memory and the optical drive make sense.

In all the years that I’ve owned an Xbox One: games on disc have been a waste. Literally, I have had more use for 3.5″ floppy diskettes in the past decade than I have for the buying video games on Blu-ray disc. When I’ve done so: without failure it lead to downloading all the freaking stuff anyway. In effect making the disc little more than a resellable license key, but at least optical discs (probably) make better frisbees than floppies.

Rather the value I’ve had out of the console’s optical drive has been purely video related. I have two Blu-ray drives. One in my desktop PC that I use for ripping content, and the one in my Xbox one that I’ll occasionally use to check the discs. Most times I just rip and later stream to my Fire TVs via Plex.

When it comes to the whole resale and used games front, I don’t think having to put a disc in the drive is worth that for me. Rather I think some system for linking license keys to an account and some kind of cross signature verification between your logged in device, and Microsoft’s servers, would be a better move. I.e. chuck the disc, unlink the key from your account and trade or sell it to a friend. Screw the damned optical disc. Having to download 20 to 100 gigs of shit is inescapable at this point, so you’re basically screwed if popping a Blu-ray in is the only way to get your game on.

I think I’ve had the original model Xbox One since about 2015 or 214. In all of that time the options for getting games on disc or used, surely hasn’t saved me the cost difference between the two new consoles. Hell, subscribing to Game Pass has probably saved me more in the long term than the used games market has saved me since 1993. Yes, I’m getting old.

Microsoft Just Showed An Uncomfortable Truth About The Xbox Series X And PS5

Not a commentary I ever really expected to see published, given the norm is closer to frothy mouthed eye candy and marketing spiel. But surprisingly well noted.

Something I would also add to this is the implications for developers has evolved as well. For a damned affordable price, the Xbox One delivered some impressive gaming hardware that would be difficult to match for the price; those of us who build gaming desktops, or buy laptops for the purpose, know how painfully expensive they are. Meanwhile for the price of a laptop that doesn’t suck, you can get a game console that can pump out stellar graphics.

I feel that with the evolution of hardware, we have reached a point where decent graphics is now more in the hands of the art and engines under the hood. Not the hardware. That is to say, the modern console has the resources that you don’t need to worry—the same way as melting laptops that shouldn’t even be running your game to begin with, lol.

The last several decades were full of “Holy crap, how can they do that and not melt the machine?” leaps in fidelity, and performance. Even in my childhood, we had massive graphic leaps like DooM and Resident Evil. Games whose graphics today, we would hardly get impressed over without a realization of what limited  they had to run on. Pumping out awe inspiring graphics is still a lot of work, and doing it in a performant way is still challenging, but it’s still impressive what you can do with a humble Xbox or PlayStation at this point. The next generation will just bring more headroom 🙂.

The Xbox’s plugs and ports, a visual history.

Nice little view, IMHO.

I pretty much ignored the original Xbox. At the time, I had a Play Station 2 and a PC. By the time the Xbox 360 came out: I had already converted to PC games. So the first iteration of Xbox One was the first time that I actually used one.

Microsoft unveils full Xbox Series X specs with 1TB expansion cards.

So in short they’ve addressed my two real wishes on the hardware front, and jacked up the horse power for tomorrow’s video games.

One of the things I dislike about the original Xbox Ome controller is that it uses MicroUSB, and I’ve largely migrated to USB-C over a slow process of attrition. My controller is one of the few things I still use that calls for a Micro-B connection.

Something I’ve coped with is the storage situation. 500 GB of doesn’t totally suck 2.5” SATA drive is able to deliver load times that aren’t overly comical, but is quite a bit too small when major games are often 30~60 GB each. A decent 1 TB drive on the USB-A ports has made a world of difference.

Beyond that I’ve been pretty happy with how the original hardware platform worked out.

Exploring around the Xbox (beta) app for a long while, I found it curious how scroll performance eventually tanked. By the time it became barf worthy, I noticed that one of the processes in its group was marked as around 2 GB. It also persists across coding and opening the GUI.

Exiting the system tray reduced it to about 2~3 something MB for the process group in taskmgr. Playing around, it looks like shifting between the list of games in category view and opening them for the detailed store view causes memory to go up, and be largely hung onto after returning to the list.

Ahh, the joys of memory leaks: and the reminder that even Microsoft ships more than a few bugs. For the Xbox used for Game Pass, at least is flagged as beta quality. Even if it looks like a resource sucking monster compared to something like Valve’s Steam client.

Having finished The Outer Worlds, I’m reminded of the last time I enjoyed an RPG that much. It was probably Dragon Age: Origins. Which are very different genres: Outer Worlds is a science fiction shooter set in a caricature world; Origins was a sword and spell tactical game set in a fantasy world.

There’s two really specific ways the games connect in my mind, aside from the level of fun.

One of the things I rather enjoyed is the open ended way of conversing. In both OW and DA, you can pretty much respond to given situation how you want. Will your interactions be kind hearted, greedy, or antagonistic? It’s up to you. While some games insert hilarious options, The Outer Worlds, like Dragon Age: Origins: is very consistent in this execution of choice. Down to the point that it may as well be a running gag being able to introduce yourself as the former captain of The Unreliable instead of yourself. Plus there’s the case of choices that actually make a difference, and party interaction.

Another is the Not Another Sandbox Thing. I really enjoyed the Elder Scroll games, for an example. But the 2000s will probably be best remembered as the era of sandbox games, and when shooters traded the dozen guns in your back pocket for MMO-like skill attributes. But I don’t really like “Open world” sandboxes as a game design. I find that they often cause a lose of focus, and in many games not made by Really Big Makers Of Games, it often feels more like a copout rather than a benefit. In fact even when it’s made by big fish it still feels that way quite often. By contrast, Outer Worlds and Dragon Age: Origins are more like a series of small contained environments. You get the open-world aspects of being able to choose where you go, and how you go questing. But you’re not dumped in a sandbox and left to wander around. I find this lends a greater focus to problem solving, and questing.

Pretty tersely: The Outer Worlds is probably the best modern RPG game that I’ve played in quite a while.