Ramadan Mubarak, gamers! It has been an exciting year for games thus far, with titles like the Dead Space remake, Hogwarts Legacy, and Resident Evil 4 remake making waves.
Today, we will be sharing the games we are playing this Ramadan.
Vagrant Story – Mik’ha
To start things off we have Mik’ha on our team who’s revisiting a beloved classic RPG from the Square Soft days with Vagrant Story.
Just like its painterly approach to visuals, Vagrant Story is drawn with many shades of grey with twists, turns and characters adeptly fleshed out with their own little arcs and backstories.
If you haven’t played and finished it, the game is well worth it just for the visuals and story alone. Honestly, I could go into the many technical feats and prowess of the team behind it to achieve what I can only praise as technical mastery over the PS1, but no… That’s not why I’m playing it this month.
There’s something just… oddly comforting about Vagrant Story.
Which might be quite a weird statement to say, considering how little it might seem that the game cares for you as a player. But, the truth is like a parent the initial stages are linear and guided. Introducing you to the many mechanics you will face as you go foward. And like a good parent, it will soon let go of your hand and expect you to face things by yourself.
There is a manual in the game which tells you everything you need to know, but it’s up to you to open it and read the many pages inside. It’s up to you to experiment with the enemies, targets, weapons and spells to figure out how it benefits you. It is a reminder that sometimes you must find your own way. Step by step.
From the dark rooms with it’s soft music and cavernous ambiance. To the soft footsteps of the main character as he trudges on ever forward. Vagrant story to me is the sound of the slow march of progress.
You will face adversity you’re pretty unaccustomed to in these days of gaming. You will struggle with a system that doesn’t neatly fit into any genre. You’ll get one shot more than you’d care to admit. But then it’ll happen. An epiphany, a flash, a eureka!
It begans to click.
Like a footstep on a cold floor.
The slow march has begun.
Vagrant story is at its heart a thinking man’s game. It’s not bereft of quick reactions and throwing yourself at enemies over and over to progress. You can definitely do it to proceed. In some ways the game even recognizes this, as your equipment will adapt to the many enemies you come to face in an area. But no, while you can progress that way, it rewards you more for taking a moment to look at yourself and the things around you. The enemies, their targetable limbs, your weapons, your skills, your magic, your workshop.
You’ll soon learn that certain weapons are better against certain enemies.
Silver for example is deadly to the undead and phantoms. Click.
Polearms with their piercing properties are great for those lizardman with their thick scales. Click. You’ll learn that you can assemble gems into these weapons to make up for their shortcomings. Click.
You’ll learn that oddly enough, your most prized magic are your debuff/buff skills, a rarity in an rpg.
Click. Click. Click.
The slow march of progress.
The month of Ramadan is often a time for self reflection, a spiritual… introspection if you will, if we have the time for it of course. And of course in our society today, who has enough of that today. Whether it’s relationships with others or struggling with your own challenges, whether it’s work or passion. We never have enough time for it.
When enough things pile up it’s like an insurmountable wall rising over the horizon, with more challenges and challenges. Like mentioned before you could throw yourself at it over and over again. You will make progress and there’s nothing wrong with it.
But again, as suited for this month perhaps you’re better off taking a look at things around you and yourself. There is much to learn. Much to introspect… And then there it will be, if not now then one day. That click.
The slow march of progress.
Vagrant Story is a reminder for me that sometimes to progress all you need is to take a look around you and yourself and that understanding even the most little of things is the steady march of progress. Whether big or small, one step in front of the other is how most of us will overcome the game and how most of us will overcome our own challenges.
And a reminder of that, is very comforting indeed.
Corpse Party – Moony
Up next, we have Corpse Party. This visual novel style horror game is the preferred game for this Ramadan for Moony, let’s see what he has to say about the game.
Horror games, Ramadan, and Discord voice chat are a match made in heaven. This was the Ramadan I discovered the joys of digitally couch gaming with friends. And Corpse Party was the game we played.
The game was pitched to me as ‘one of the most graphic games with the least graphics’. This intrigued me enough to pick it up while it was on sale on Steam and play it with some friends sitting in.
The opening reminded me of Persona. The first one. But then things quickly went off the rails and I found myself facing a Japanese elementary school horror setting with a variety of characters, dangers, and ways to die horribly. I found reading some of the most eerie, creepy, or gory text descriptions I’ve read in a good long while.
My friend was right. This IS one of the most graphic games with the least graphics I have ever seen. The game took me through a gauntlet of fearful emotions using only text, 2D pixel spites, 2D images, voiced dialogue, music, and ambient sound.
The written descriptions, especially in the English localization are chilling. The characters are more layered than you’d think. The central mystery presented is deep and complicated enough to keep you digging through every nook and cranny for any more clues or information.
As a big fan of the horror genre, I had been itching for a good game to sink my teeth into with some friends so we could all be terrified together. This game delivered in a major way and though I’m not done with it, I see myself coming back to this game again and again for years to come.
So this Ramadan, I’ve been spending some time playing Corpse Party with friends. Not only is the game amazing (in my opinion), the memories made with friends also really add to the fun.
As for what the game is about… well… perhaps it’s best you find the answer to that mystery yourself.
(Though be warned that as a horror game, it does deal with some difficult and disturbing subjects. Checking out a content warning is recommended.)
Octopath Traveler II – Aiham
Next is Octopath Traveler II by Aiham, he has been spending a fair amount of time on this turn based JRPG after the demo had left quite a powerful impression on him.
Recently, I had the opportunity to play the demo of a game, and within 30 minutes, it convinced me to purchase it. What better time to play a game with 8 different protagonists, each with their unique stories and ambitions than during Ramadan?
I have already played for around 17 hours, and the one thing I can say is that this game is an early contender for the Game of the Year award.
Each of the 8 stories is told in a way that makes you invest in the characters and want to see their story through to the end. Currently, I am doing a quests of other characters than the one I chose as the main protagonist.
The turn-based combat system is very enjoyable, and the battle theme that is played is just perfect. The same applies to the boss themes. It’s an early contender for the best soundtrack of the year.
This is just a small teaser. Look forward for my review of the game in the near future!
Resident Evil 4 – Thundertoise
Octopath II is not our only GOTY contender, here is Thundertoise with his impressions on the Resident Evil 4 Remake after finishing the game.
RE4 Remake is in short, a must-play of 2023.
It is arguably the best remake of the Resident Evil (RE) franchise remake series by Capcom, where in nearly every aspect, the remake does well by the highly acclaimed 2005 original, which is no minor feat in itself.
Kicking off a couple years from the events of RE2, Leon is back again, no longer a rookie, but a seasoned agent on one hell of a rescue mission, facing up cults, creatures and calamities. The story is very well structured, in that it services just as well as a stand-alone and connector to the wider franchise lore, while minor retcons and twists yield a faithful and refreshing retelling of the story, and even redeems some flaws from the original—meaning that both veterans and new players can get mileage out of it.
The gameplay is excellent, building on the RE2 Remake mechanics and giving it a smoother polish—although some sluggish feels can be felt if you’re used to faster third person shooters. That said, better accessibility and input options certainly improve the feel of this game.
The visuals are great, particularly on the character and item intricacies, while the soundtrack complements well with the gameplay and cutscenes. And despite the unavailability of the series staple mercenaries mode, nor additional content from the original such as Ada Wong’s story content, there is much replay value to be had as there are plenty of in-game and trophy challenges that are well-worth the efforts such as special weapons and equipment,—all of which make an extra new game plus run that much more fun.
RE4 remake is not just a great addition to the Resident Evil franchise, but is also a very good game period, to be played and experienced by any gamer looking for a good action-adventure romp filled with guns and gore.
Diablo IV – Thahseen
What if we said, we had a third GOTY contender? And surprisingly enough, this is none other than Diablo IV!
Last but not least, it’s my turn to talk about a prominent game I have been playing this Ramadan. When Diablo IV was announced, it’s safe to say that we were not particularly excited about the game and were dreading how it would turn out after Blizzard handled Diablo Immortal with over-monetization and predatory in-game purchases.
This was not something that fans of Diablo were happy about, especially after the performance issues and technical shortcomings on Diablo II: Resurrected and World of Warcraft Reforged.
When Blizzard opened Diablo IV for open beta, I thought of trying it myself since it was free, and there might be a chance that it could prove to be entertaining at least.
It’s safe to say that Diablo IV has exceeded all of my expectations after playing the open beta for some time. This is it, the classic Diablo experience that fans of the game have been waiting for since Diablo II.
The gameplay is buttery smooth, the graphics look amazing, and the story has taken a much darker turn with high stake battles between the fallen angel Inarius and Daughter of Hatred Lilith. The world of Sanctuary has become a battlefield with both Inarius and Lilith making an appearance to settle their differences and millennia of hatred, using humans as pawns in their game.
The developers have done a splendid job of creating an immersive experience in a conflict-riddled world where even the majority of the side quests have a surprising amount of depth to them. I have played the open demo as a Barbarian and initially found the first part of the game a bit easier. So, I turned up the difficulty to Veteran, which is just the right mix for a Diablo player returning to the experience with more challenging and tougher enemies and bosses. The combat was very enjoyable.
We will cover more about Diablo IV when the game comes out this June.
While talking about Diablo IV, it’s also important to note that Blizzard has been previously sued for multiple sexual harassment allegations at the workplace and mass layoffs.