2nd February 2024
Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we’ve been playing over the past few days. This week: possessed cards, infinite wealth, and journals.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, PS5
Imagine — it’s a cold and blustery night, the wind whistles through the window that’s ever so slightly open for a necessary dose of oxygen. A chill comes in with it, but you don’t care because you’re tucked under a blanket strolling through Hawaii with Ichiban, Kiryu and company.
To say I was excited about Infinite Wealth would be an understatement, after seeing part of it at EGX last year I needed more. The timer says I’ve roughly been playing it for 45 hours, yet I’m not even halfway through the story and have only delved into a few of the substory missions and minigames on offer. This game is packed with things to do — there’s so much to get your head around and enjoy, there’s never enough time in one session to do it all. Kind of like how it feels to go on vacation but not get enough time to fit everything in, yet you still leave feeling elated.
Watch on YouTube
Also, in true Like a Dragon fashion, there’s a carefully constructed balance between serious subjects and the downright hilarious/mildly absurd ones (Sicko Snap for one). Unravelling the paths that each character takes, especially Ichiban and Kiryu, have felt unexpectedly powerful in many ways. Many moments have made me stop to think and resasses some of my own priorities which I didn’t expect to happen.
On a lighter note, cycling around Hawaii doing backflips on a bike while delivering food to expectant customers or hopping on board a trolley to snap cinematic photographs of sickos doing questionable things is a perfect way to unwind after a long day.
Dare I say that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is already a top content for my game of the year? And will I be sitting in a blanket during the forthcoming cold months while immersing myself in Ichiban’s adventures? You bet!
I don’t want to sound like a zealot, but I reckon everyone should keep a journal. Or rather, I reckon there are benefits to journaling that everyone can enjoy.
I definitely think everyone who wants to be a writer should keep one. Journals are a sort of super power for writers. You can always spot the writers who keep them going. I look at H is for Hawk, and while I know it’s a singular work of brilliance, I tell myself I can see the spine of journal-keeping within it which allowed it to exist in such an ideal form.
Anyway, this probably doesn’t count for What We’ve Been Playing, but this week I’ve been messing around with Apple’s new Journal app. If you got the recent system update, you have it. It allows you to write little entries and link them to screenshots and videos and all sorts of things. Also it prompts you and gives you nudges and ideas if you can’t think about what to write about.
Also also, according to Apple, it’s private. It doesn’t connect to anything, you can’t export it, and the info stays on your phone rather than any servers anywhere. I think it’s a lovely, lovely thing, and while I’m going to keep my pen and paper journals, protected by my hideous handwriting, I like to think that for someone out there, this Apple offering is the start of something brilliant.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to playing Inscryption, seeing as its lo-fi horror weirdness is so precisely in my wheelhouse, but, finally, here I am. Given developer Daniel Mullins’ slippery previous work, I was largely expecting the card bit of Inscryption to be a bit relatively throwaway bit of fluff, a means to a far more cryptic end. But for all the expectation-subverting, room-escape-style, cabin-in-the-woods shenanigans happening away from the table between rounds, it’s the deck building — a deceptively clever blend of strategic card placement and ability exploitation, by way of family friendly animal sacrifice and self mutilation — that has me thoroughly consumed.
Much of the fun comes from the exhilaratingly ridiculous malleability of your deck and the huge number of ways you can wrangle your cards into comically devastating configurations — stealing a sigil from one card, say, so you can imbue your most powerful one with perpetual resurrection, or fashioning a totem that’ll turn even your puniest cards into triple attack killing machines.
I am not great at deck builders, it has to be said — but Inscryption finds so many elegant ways to keep your options vast without ever being overwhelming, and does so with such a gleefully malevolent eye for surprise, that I’ve barely been able to drag myself away. The campers are dead, my squirrels are bees, and I really don’t know where any of this is going. Eventually, perhaps, the cabin will reveal its secrets, but until then I’ll pluck out my eyes, wrench out my teeth, and play on.