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What we’ve been playing – zombies, schools, and erased names


22nd March 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: zombies, personas, and erased names.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.

Persona 3 Reload, PS5

It seems strange to be playing a series in reverse. Persona 5 was my introduction to the RPG series and I loved it, but last year’s Persona 4 re-release left me cold once I realised just how formulaic the series is. Armed with that knowledge, though, I’m enjoying Persona 3 Reload a lot more.


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Now I know to expect the same calendar structure, the same magic system, the same social options, the same tired stereotyped characters. I know there’ll be fantastic combat mechanics based on exploiting elemental weaknesses, just as there’ll be an annoying womanising jock character and some questionable teacher-student relationships. Sigh. Reload is a clear step backwards played after P5, but its familiarity is oddly comforting.

Still, it’s got me thinking about what’s next for the series, and for Atlus. The calendar structure and balance of daytime schoolwork and nighttime dungeon-crawling will always remain, of course, but P5 was the culmination of these games which came before, and the ultimate expression of this sort of gameplay. No wonder Persona 6 is likely so far away. I just hope, when it does eventually come around, that Atlus gives us characters relevant to today instead of rehashing tropes from two decades ago.

What I’m really excited about, though, is Metaphor: ReFantazio. Due out later this year, Atlus has taken the structure of Persona but applied it to a high fantasy setting based around – of all things – an election, with whining (but relatable) teens swapped for a magical world brimming with fresh creativity. I can’t wait.

-Ed

Back 4 Blood, PS5

Let’s Play Back 4 Blood Gameplay: Evansburgh Act 1 – IT’S NOT LEFT 4 DEAD 3, HONEST!


Team video takes on Back 4 Blood. Bertie’s better (if you believe that, you’ll believe anything).

Which online co-op game do you play with your teenager (who’s on PS5) that you can both get to without having to pay extra? I’ve scoured PlayStation Plus (Extra) and apparently the best answer is Back 4 Blood, though if you have any better suggestions, I’ll gladly hear them. So that’s what we played and it was… fine?

I’m a bit muted because there were things I liked and things I didn’t. I liked the splattery gore and the fantasy fulfilment of carving through hordes of zombies, and the way the game keeps you busy by always trickling more zombies in at the back, or springing a Stinger on you to catch you unaware. But what bothered me was all the faff around that, all the card upgrades and tools and equipment swapping.

I know what I sound like by the way: someone’s dad who doesn’t play games. My son had seemingly no problem with any of this, rummaging through chests for weaponry while zombies lolloped around, all while keeping on top of mission objectives. It’s his Fortnite training. I was all over the place; it’s my Baldur’s Gate 3 training.

Come to think of it, his leading me might have been more of a significant moment than I realised, because I don’t want to toot my own horn here but for many years, I was the driving force in our co-op endeavours. I would carry him, so to speak, and prop us both up. I always knew a time like this would come, when he would overtake me, like a Sith student does their master, without the implied murder there of, but I didn’t know when. Now I do – and I was too busy getting chewed on by a zombie to notice. God damn it!

-Bertie

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, Xbox Series X

Like a Dragon Gaiden Overview Trailer & Developer Update


Here’s a nice overview of The Man Who Erased His Name, which is, conicidentally, a ridiculous name for a game.

I’m only two and a half chapters into this title, yet it’s already captured my heart with its witty remarks, soul-crushing revelations and action-packed fight sequences. From the very first moment I met Kiryu (sorry, ‘Joryu’ as he’s called in-game) I just knew I was in for another unpredictable yet gratifying adventure from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.

Yes – I already know that I’ve played the latest games in the Like a Dragon series the wrong way around. It should have been this one first, then Infinite Wealth, but sometimes writing guides means things don’t work out in the order they should. Honestly, though, I feel like the games both work in either order, because the stories are so well written that it’s easy to follow them from whatever point in the chronology you’ve decided to hop in.

I do wonder if my fondness for this title comes from the fact I’ve already played Infinite Wealth, so some of the early locations are places I know well. There is a point early in the game where I diverted off the main path to try to find a particular home of an important Infinite Wealth character. I couldn’t quite get there, but the self-inflicted hunt for it was amusing for a while.

Humorous and self-inflicted adventures aside, like most additions to this series, this one doesn’t lack for depth moments that force you to question your own values and what you would do if you were in the same situation. This is exactly what keeps bringing me back to Like a Dragon games – there’s a balance of humour, humility, absurdity and honesty about how tough life can be, even for those who seem to be the strongest.

-Marie

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