The RPS Bargain Bucket: Summer Serenade

It is the Steam summer sales! Honestly, why are you even reading this? It’s an explosion of discounts over there. If it’s not on offer, it will probably soon be. But just in case you were bored, or just in the mood to do some window shopping, we’ve got some bargains in the bucket for you. (You can thank welverin for this week’s bucket plushie!)

Lost Constellation
Pay what you want
Is it still a bargain if you’re the one dictating the price? The short answer: depends on you. (Yes, I know. Total cop-out. But, let’s go with that.) Lost Constellation comes from the same universe as the much-anticipated Night in the Woods, a game about the end of the world, talking animals, and pizza. It’s an experiment of sorts. A tangent, says the developers. A side story. A way for them to explore the universe, and for us to experience a wintry ghost story/

To The Moon Comic
While we’re on the subject of things-that-are-relevant-to-great-indie-games-but-are-not-sequels-or-the-like-man-this-is-getting-long, here’s something that is free, off-beat but beautiful. To The Moon was Freebird Games’ absolutely heartbreaking sojourn into an old man’s mind, and this comic is dedicated to one of its more light-hearted characters. Although I’m generally predisposed towards anything that involves a plush platypus, this free comic series is kinda interesting in that you’ll be able to submit your ideas in order to influence how the tale progresses. Too cute for words.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
It’s funny how the Internet changes its mind, sometimes. One day, a game is the best thing in the world. The next, it’s a humdrum piece of triple-A mediocrity. People seem rather divided on Dragon Age: Inquisition, including its portrayal of diversity. But for all of its slumps, its bugs, and even the vast emptiness of its virtual country, I find it hard to dislike the game. It’s rather earnest. And it feels like it wants to be much, much more than it really is. It wants sweeping drama. It wants epic relationships. And to an extent? Dragon Age: Inquisition succeeds. But that’s just me. If you’re curious about where you might fall on the spectrum, the game’s going for pretty cheap right now.

Child of Light
Speaking of earnest, Child of Light is another game that’s both an RPG and perhaps more concerned with emotion and relationships than combat stats. That said, a lot of the reviews felt that it fell awkwardly between two stalls; offering a gorgeous storybook world to explore, with a story like a children’s fable, but combined then with a combat system that was a little too fiddly and involved for those who might have enjoyed it best. Maybe Child of Light is a game best played alongside a little one?

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – $9.99/£6.42/€8.87
I’m fascinated with Final Fantasy XIV, and possibly for all the wrong reasons. It was the little-big game that could, and then it became the little big-game that could not. Then, after much effort, it became the little-big game that sorta could and now, everyone is posting strange screenshots from their adventures. (P.S: As it is Amazon, be sure you have all the proper whatnots in place when you’re trying to pick it up.)

Sunset – $9.99/£7.49/€8.87
Tale of Tales was probably the company that got me hooked on the idea of indie games. Their work is often surreal, sometimes wonky, but always deliberate in the pursuit of their artistic vision. Sunset continues this trend, albeit with the appearance of a slightly higher budget. In case you missed the memo, it’s a first-person game about both war and domesticity, life and death, being a diligent housekeeper and an incorrigible snoop.


  1. JB says:

    Why not Zoidberg indeed

  2. welverin says:

    The To the Moon Link got messed up.

  3. Pazguato says:

    “Honestly, why are you even reading this? It’s an explosion of discounts over there.”

    Everytime, I ask myself the same question.

  4. Ross Angus says:

    Lost Constellation (at time of writing, the link is borked) is lovely. It’s a little like Kentucky Route Zero, and looks a little bit like WIndowsill. I am now very excited about Night In The Woods.

  5. crazyd says:

    DA:I was such a huge disappointment to me from the get go. The combat is horrible and the the missions are the most fetch-questy / kill x monsterish shit I’ve ever seen outside a MMO. I never understood why it was so well liked.

    • malkav11 says:

      Because it’s apparently super important that every game be “open” and “nonlinear” even if that means slogging through a ton of makework bullshit instead of focusing on the core strengths of the game.

    • shadybearfaced says:

      Why is anyone still talking about DAI when we have Witcher 3??

      • crazyd says:

        Witcher 3 just makes DA:I look even worse. Everything that game fails completely at, Witcher does well. I just don’t get why anyone ever paid attention to it. I certainly regret buying it.

        • nearly says:

          You’re saying this partially with hindsight and partially blind to the issues of your current rave, just like everyone needed to talk about how Skyrim was so much better than everything (DA:I just happens to be a bit more widely played than Dark Souls was at release).

          I don’t imagine it’ll be too long before another game makes you realize that The Witcher 3 involves a lot of the same running to an icon on a map, finding a thing / person, getting the thing / talking to the person, and then either being done or heading to a different thing / person on the map. Add in sometimes holding down a button to make the thing you need glow, a lot of dialogue, and it’s not really not all that much more compelling than DA:I. For all the raving about how huge forward a leap The Witcher 3 is, I haven’t really seen anything in it that isn’t completely conventional RPG. It’s well-executed in a lot of regards, but all of praise for it is also insistent on overlooking all of the places where it’s not nearly as well-executed or original, just like every other game that has been tops for a time.

          • crazyd says:

            Nah, I disliked Skyrim and Dragon Age at launch. I don’t mind going between icons when there is fun things to do at the icons. Witcher is the only one of these games where the minute to minute gameplay is really fun to me, and the focus on storytelling, even in minor throwaway quests, really makes it stand out from the competition.

    • defunct says:

      How does DA:I compare to DA:O? I loved that game and played the heck out of it, a couple times. I only have 166 hours in it on Steam, but I had the DVD version prior to that and played that, too. I disliked the second one, but am wondering how it does against the first. Anyone that’s played both, I would love to hear from you.

      • malkav11 says:

        Things Inquisition does better than Origins:
        It is a lot prettier.
        I would argue that its slate of companions are generally more interesting and varied than Origins’, though I did like Alistair and Shale a lot. (And Anders, in the expansion. Such a shame what they did to him in II.)

        Things Origins does better than Inquisition:
        Pretty much everything else.

        The big things Inquisition gets wrong for me are the combat, which is essentially riffing on what they did in Dragon Age II, and the open world. Origins’ combat is still some of the best I’ve encountered in a real-time pausable RPG (turn-based is my preference, but oh well). Everybody has a bunch of varied, tactically significant abilities to deploy, enemies have dramatically different offensive and defensive capabilities that require different approaches and present a real, sometimes very stiff challenge, resources are a concern, positioning is a concern (particularly because friendly fire is on), and the complex AI scripting you can do means you don’t have to micromanage every single character all the time. It does eventually fall down a bit as your characters get so powerful that it’s difficult to present meaningful opposition, but it takes many hours to get there.

        Dragon Age II jettisoned most of that, preferring to make you rely on a tiny handful of abilities gated mostly by cooldowns, eliminating any ability to have positional control as enemies simply teleport in, stirring enemies together in a nearly featureless mass (and offering a mere fraction of the enemy types to begin with), eliminating friendly fire considerations from the design (you can turn it on but the game is not designed for it so you can’t really avoid hurting your own people the way you could in Origins), and of course drawing everything out as a relentless slog of multiple waves in EVERY SINGLE FIGHT argh. Also, you couldn’t really pull out to a tactical camera, IIRC.

        Inquisition does improve on this to a degree. There’s no more teleporting enemies (or rather, the couple that do do that explicitly as a power), no dragging the fights out with nonsensical reinforcement waves. There’s some distinction between enemies and a more robust range of types. You’re still stuck with a handful of abilities on cooldowns, though, and little reason not to just fire them whenever they’re up. They are, at least, effective without supplemental passives, unlike in DAII. There’s still not really much tactics to it, and while they did include a “tactical camera” it’s so zoomed in that it’s useless and in my experience actually makes fights go more poorly than just sticking to your main character and letting the AI run everyone else. Even on the Hard difficulty setting fights only seem to end up being challenging if they outlevel you significantly, and that increasingly stops even being a thing if you’re at all completionist about questing. Oh, and you can’t script your companions at all and it’s not very practical to micromanage them. But as I say, you don’t really need to.

        Mind you, I’m okay with easy combat – I’d rather that than get roadblocked. And if I don’t really enjoy the combat (which has been the case with the last two DA games), I’d rather breeze through it than make a production of it. It’s just a little disappointing when the first game was so good at being challenging and tactical without being ridiculously sloggy or frustrating.
        (part 1)

      • malkav11 says:

        No, I think Inquisition’s biggest problem is the open world. It’s like Bioware heard all the complaints about Dragon Age II being confined to one city (which, for the record, I thought was one of the cool things about II. it just got too much else wrong.), and then ridiculously overcompensated. Here’s the thing. Those areas are impressively large, they’re gorgeous, and they are full of ridiculous make-work box-checking with little actual payoff. You nearly never get any of the things that I find make exploration and open world setups rewarding: narrative (whether ambient or explicit), unique loot (in Inquisition it’s nearly all randomized garbage), or some sort of special encounter like a boss fight or a puzzle or something. It’s generally just some cash, randomized crap, and some generic enemies to fight. Not to mention piles and piles of crafting materials. It feels very much like padding, and it makes the good bits – the story, the characters, the worldbuilding, etc – spaced out to a degree where they feel very thin. I’ve heard it expressed that if you don’t find this stuff fun that you simply shouldn’t do it. And I am generally in agreement with that sentiment. But it constitutes a huge part of the game, it hits all my completist tendencies right in the spot where they live, and finally, unless I go and I explore and I check boxes, how will I know I’m not missing something that -is- cool, -is- rewarding, etc? Because those things do exist. They’re just hidden behind all the bullshit. And that’s why, ultimately, the open world is what’s made it harder and harder for me to go back to Inquisition. I haven’t finished – nothing like, really. So grain of salt and all that. Maybe it gets better later. But I’ve hit several of the zones, not just the Hinterlands, and the others are better, sure, but not that much better.

        I also have complaints about, e.g., the items, crafting, I feel like the dispatch stuff is underbaked, etc. But they’re relatively minor compared to the combat and especially the open world. I do think that it corrects a number of II’s actual errors to at least some degree (combat, repeated environments, the inability to equip armor on NPCs, etc) and so far it hasn’t fallen down in the writing the way DAII’s Act 3 did (though I’ve heard worrying things about the ending). So it’s probably better than II. On the other hand? I finished II. Not sure that I’ll be able to finish Inquisition.
        (and part 2. That turned out longer than I expected.)

      • nearly says:

        I have all of the Dragon Age games (originally from the Origin coupon snafu) and was playing through Origins for the first time (after having tried and not been able to get into it) in anticipation of Inquisition. When Inquisition came out, I held off for about a week and tried to finish Origins but then jumped ship.

        Inquisition is a lot of fun, but it often feels like a very different game from Origins. Not to throw a ton of spoilers at you, but the tone is very different and while the stakes feel about as high, it just never felt like the same weight as the conflict in Origins for a variety of reasons. Sidequests feel similar in that you can grab a good couple and then more or less unintentionally complete them when you’re in the right area. It’s had a lot of criticism (especially as the hype fades) for fetch quests, but I don’t think they’re much better or worse than any other RPG really.

        After playing Inquisition for a while, I went back to Origins. I think you’ll like Inquisition if you’re not expecting it to be Origins again and are capable of liking two different games. If you’re looking for Origins 2.0, I think it would be really disappointing. I had come to really like Origins by the time I was overcome with hype and was a bit disappointed that Inquisition wasn’t more like it.

  6. datom says:

    1) The Steam Sale is very much trading on its reputation as the Steam Sale; the marketing hype has done it’s job and they can offer great discounts, but not necessarily matching those seen at GOG recently. I’ve got some incredible deals from GOG (all Soldak games for $10, AoW3 plus expansions at a big discount plus regional pricing saves, Conquistadors for under £3, Doorkickers for the same IIRC).

    2) Gamesplanet currently has a wonderful deal on Pillars of Eternity:–2709-1 – for £14. Of course, it’s possible Steam might beat that but considering it didn’t get below £28 on GOG it seems like a total bargain.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Yeah, this is perhaps the first time I haven’t even had the slightest inclination to check out the Steam sales. The GoG sales are pretty great (they’re still ongoing).

  7. AngoraFish says:

    FWIW, Lost Constellation has been out for six months and has always been PWYW.