Tell Me What To Play Now, or work burnout indecisiveness

One of the reasons I got into technical and copy writing as a career, I used to joke, was because there’s no such thing as a “documentation emergency”. (Before that I did a lot of network operations, where everything is pretty much an emergency.) It turns out that I was totally wrong! Starting last week my workplace has been on high alert about a gigantic project that launches at the end of March, and the result has been many long hours and mentally exhausting days.

By the time I get home I am frequently burned out. I don’t feel like writing (sorry, blog readers), I don’t feel like chatting (sorry, guildies), and I don’t feel like doing anything too mentally taxing. My response to this so far has been to play the Auction House and level a bit in TERA, and watch a lot of Australian reality competition shows*.

But really, I’d rather be playing games. Specifically, I think, a single-player meaty title with a good story. Occasionally I stare at my Steam list, and somewhat like Ellyndrial’s post about just Shutting Up and Playing I feel overwhelmed by choice and the perverse inner voice of optimization. Witcher 2 was supposed to be great, but I hear the combat is obnoxious. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was also suposed to be great, but I’m pretty terrible at stealth games. I’ve already played through the Mass Effect trilogy a million times, KOTOR 2 is apparently kind of dumb in the middle, and.. man, maybe I’ll just watch more reality shows.

So since apparently I am too brain-dead to actually pick my own game for the rest of March, clearly it is time to ask the internet! Qualifications are:

1. I’m fine buying a game, as long as it isn’t published by EA and can be found for under $50.
2. Great story.
3. Great story.
4. Not super complicated or demanding.
5. Any single-player genre (RPG, Action, Retro Emulator, whatever).

So whatcha got for me?

* Right now it’s S1 of Amazing Race Australia. I like AR anyway because of all the travel, and non-American reality shows are the best because everyone is so nice!

Author: Jessica Cook

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  1. Torchlight II.

    Fun, easy to get into and the graphics are awesome! Single player or online. You can play for 20 minutes or for hours. Watch out though once I load it up it tends to end up being hours.

    Story is good, but I wouldn’t rave about it. Interesting hidden stuff and little side plots though.

    Gobble gobble.

    PS Australian reality competition shows? Didn’t know we had our own genre. If you like that sort of stuff “The Block” is popular ATM for some reason. Not my sorta thing though.

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    • Oh Torchlight II! Good one! I think I already own that somewhere too.

      Thank you, Mr. Turkey. I should have guessed that you were an Aussie, due to niceness. ;)

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  2. Have you played The Longest Journey? It’s an older game, but it does have a good story and it’s engaging. I’m not sure if it passes the fourth qualification though, since it’s puzzle-y in a “how do I open this locked door with this piece of chewed gum” sort of way, so it can tax the brain a little, but it’s not too bad!

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    • I was going to propose the exact same game! The Longest Journey is excellent.

      Also, Bastion is very good if you haven’t played it yet.
      Rohan´s last post: 5.2 Tomorrow!

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      • Thanks, you two! I picked up a copy of The Longest Journey a couple of nights ago, and it is indeed really neat.

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    • Ooh, I was holding out on the new TR until I saw some reviews, so I appreciate the heads up that you’re enjoying it. :)

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  3. How caught up are you on very old games? Stuff that fits the great story x 2 category for me would be things like Planescape: Torment or Grim Fandango. Or Secret of Monkey Island, there’s a reworked graphics version out.

    Failing which, any adventure game by Telltale Games is generally a good story, and fairly short and episodic. Good for bite-sized play.

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    • Ooh, I think a sequel for Planescape: Torment was just announced today, so clearly this has to go on my list.

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  4. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this, because it’s one of those nostalgia games for me and I have no idea if it will hold up to modern scrutiny. It meets your criteria, and at some point over the next few months I am going to buy the old Sierra Quest for Glory series from GOG and play through it. :)

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    • Aro talks about these games all the time on the podcast, so I should probably break down and try one. ;)

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  5. “Witcher 2 was supposed to be great, but I hear the combat is obnoxious”

    Witcher 2 is the best story driven RPG in the last 4 years so don’t miss it! It has a great story and NPC full of personalities. You actually want to see what happens to these people. It also has great replay value. The entire second chapter (1/3 of the game) plays *completely* differently based on the choices you make in chapter 1.

    Turn off QTE and play in easy/normal and the combat won’t be an issue at all. I played it normal with QTE and I got the hang of it after some trial and error. I won’t go call it “obnoxious” at all.

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    • Well now I *have* to play it! I think you just gave me the push I needed, since it’s already in my Steam library. Thanks. :)

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      • Yay! You won’t regret it at all (I hope!).

        Have you played Witcher 1? It is an excellent game with great story too. You don’t have to have played W1 to play W2, but you get additional pay-offs in W2, story wise, when you meet some of NPCs again.

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    • I am curious, what do you mean with QTE? I recently started playing The Witcher 2, and loved the prologue, but tossed out into the fairly open world, my frustrations with the combat made me stop playing. Even on easy I feel overwhelmed. :o
      Kadomi´s last post: [Books] January Reviews

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      • QTE – Quick timed events. Some bosses have them and they are real annoying but luckily you can turn them off :)

        If you keep at a for a while, the combat does get lot easier. Once you level up and get gear, put skills points tec, combt does get easier.

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    • I just don’t enjoy it. :( I’ve sincerely tried twice, and something about the game didn’t click with me. It might just be a Bethesda engine thing, as I’ve had the same response to Fallout 3 and New Vegas.

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      • Fair enough. It took me a while to get into, and then it was largely because I started modding it to hell and gone. I can certainly see the argument that if you need 100+ mods to enjoy the game, someone’s doing it wrong.

        My ideal RPG would be something with the scale, openness and stunning visuals of Skyrim, combined with the storytelling and character development of Bioware (pre-EA/DA2).

        I actually haven’t played Skyrim…since Storm Legion dropped, now that I think of it. Partly it was out of pique over the Xbox exclusivity thing, but now that I have the DLC, Rift is just where my head is.

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  6. Rohan’s suggestion of Bastion is a good one — it’s very fast and very engaging and one of my favorite ‘recent’ releases.

    Retro gaming: Mangle’s suggestion of QfG is also a very very good one (QfG4 is one of my all-time favorites). I just can’t … do … QfG5. It’s so different in look and feel and I just … I can’t. Gabriel Knight is amazing. King’s Quest 1-3 have free AGDI Win7 versions. is the PS2 emulator I have heard the most about.

    I will personally purchase a copy of the Dig for you if you don’t have it already.
    Aro´s last post: Raising a gamer

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    • Yeah, after making this post I realized I probably could have just asked you. “What game that is like all the games that Aro loves should I play?”. :)

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  7. I’m mostly a PC gamer as well, but if you do happen to own a PS3… do yourself a favor, and go play Journey. It is just… amazing. I have no words to describe how perfect that game is. I bought it two days ago and already completed 100% of its achievements, so it’s pretty short, but it’s one of those games that will forever stick with you.

    If you prefer to stick with PC games, well:
    * The Walking Dead
    * Little Inferno
    * Portal 1 & 2
    * Batman Arkham City
    * Spec Ops: The Line
    * Limbo

    Just some options that came to mind.
    Kemwer´s last post: Do we still need levels? #GuildWars2

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    • Does Little Inferno have much of a story, or is it all about burning things? Not that there’s anything wrong with that… :)

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  8. Does a pre-EA BioWare game count? Because Jade Empire was a lot of fun, with a good story and a world nicely different from the usual fantasy-Europe or future/space setting of most games.

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