Returning to Twitch after a year required some consideration.
Pete and I decided to take a break from streaming in spring or summer 2021. We’d burnt ourselves out by trying to stick to a schedule which was too frequent, and some tension within the community at the time made us realise it would be good to take some time away from it all.
But with GameBlast23 coming up in February, we knew we needed to make a return so we could get back into the swing of things before the marathon. However, we made a firm resolution to not put so much pressure on ourselves this time around. This means that we won’t be on Twitch as often as before and it will there be difficult to stick to a regular schedule, but we’ll have more energy when we go live as a result.
We were aware we’d need to put some thought into finding the right game for our return shortly after Christmas. It would have to be something that wasn’t overly complicated, so we could feel comfortable in managing the stream itself, chat and gameplay all at once. And it shouldn’t have a high difficulty curve or too much narrative, so we could talk freely to people without too much distraction.
While Pete understood the reasons for my final choice of title, it wasn’t one he completely enjoyed. We’ve been playing video games together since we first met over eight years ago and share an interest in the puzzle, full-motion video (FMV) and detective genres. However, our other tastes vary wildly. He likes guns, explosions and action but I much prefer a slower pace with an emotional story and character conversations. Here are some of the games I’ve enjoyed while Pete… well, not so much.
I came across Coloring Pixels in August 2019 when it appeared in my Steam discovery queue. It was one of those evenings where I was in a mood and just didn’t know what I wanted to play, so I decided to click on the download button because it was free. What did I have to lose? It turned out to be one of the most relaxing titles in my library: you choose a pixelated image, select a colour from the palette at the bottom of the screen and then click away to fill it in. It’s a great way to unwind after a long day.
Pete’s review: “It’s boring. It doesn’t even look good when you’ve completed a picture.”
After playing Eastshade in April 2019, it was immediately added to my favourites list. Imagine playing an RPG like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but with no combat; somewhere you can explore without fear of getting attacked by frost trolls, and where there are secrets and interesting characters to discover around every corner. Throw in some beautiful visuals straight out of an art book, a lovely soundtrack, and a quest to capture this world on your painter’s canvas. That’s this game in one paragraph.
Pete’s review: “This game is pointless. Why have an RPG with no combat? What’s that all about?”
Life is Strange
Let’s start this section with a disclaimer. I didn’t enjoy Life is Strange very much because Max and Chloe hella annoy me (why do they keep saying that?). However, I’ve included it within today’s list because it’s very much my type of game: narrative-heavy with a few plot twists and turns, and a sprinkling of emotion for good measure. I haven’t yet tried any of the sequels but I’d like to give at least one of them a go to see if they sit better with me than the original. Perhaps Tell Me Why will appear on stream at some point.
Pete’s review: “I can’t even say anything about Life is Strange because it’s so bad. It’s emotional rubbish.”
Placid Plastic Duck Simulator
This was the game that made our return to Twitch last month. I chose it for its simplicity: you watch plastic ducks calmly float around a swimming pool, receiving a new duck in a gift-wrapped parcel every few minutes to add to your collection. It allowed us to talk to friends in chat without having to worry about performing well with the gameplay and this took the pressure off. Thanks to viewers for helping us name the birds with some nice puns, my favourite still being the one made out of rock that friend-of-the-blog Ghost Owl called ‘Dwayne ‘The Duck’ Johnson’.
Pete’s review: “It’s not a game. You don’t do anything in it.”
I started Strange Horticulture in March last year but decided not to finish it because it felt as though it would be a good one for streaming with friends at some point. You step in the role of a plant shop owner and it’s your responsibility to identity various species before selling them to mysterious customers, while occasionally petting your cat. The atmosphere makes it seem like everyone you meet has something to hide, and clues can be pieced together to reveal new locations on your map to be explored.
Pete’s review: “Why not give you enough space on the shelves to organise your plants properly? It’s silly.”
To The Moon
This is another game on my favourites list. I first played To The Moon not long after starting blogging in February 2013, and most recently picked it up again a couple of years ago for the play-along hosted by Naithin from Time to Loot. It doesn’t involve much gameplay at all but I absolutely love its story about a man who’s dying wish is to go to the moon for an initially unknown reason. It hits me in the heart every single time, and one of the songs from the game is included in my favourite tracks playlist.
Pete’s review: “It’s made to make you cry and that’s just stupid. Plus there’s too much reading.”
The Elder Scrolls Online
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I’m a little obsessed with The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). I’ve been playing it on and off since December 2015 and am back on the bandwagon again. There are a few reasons why I always return to this game. For starters, it’s easy: every time I go back, it feels like I never left because everything is so familiar. I’m able to play it with a controller (I suck at keyboard and mouse) and, if I’m not in the mood for dedicated questing, I can just walk in any direction and see what I discover.
Pete’s review: “Stop making me start new characters so you can run around from the beginning.”
The reviews from Pete above may be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea. He’s unlikely to enjoy anything which involves too much reading without voice-acting and will immediately roll his eyes at anything which gets emotional. I’m sure he’d much rather prefer to stream Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 every time we go live. Friends in Twitch chat recently requested he play Papers, Please one day so I’m sure that’s going to be interesting to watch…
What about you: are there certain types of game you enjoy which are the complete opposite from those your partner, friends or family like? I guess that’s one of the best things about video games. There’s something out there for everyone, regardless of your tastes.