The PlayStation Offerings - July, 2014: The "Have You Played These Games Yet?" Edition

Every month, PlayStation Plus subscribers can download select games for free through the service as part of what PlayStation calls its "Instant Game Collection." Almost all gaming websites report on the free games given monthly to PS+ subscribers - that’s good; the more people that know what’s headed their way, the better. We do, too, but with a twist.

I keep an ever-changing spreadsheet of the games currently offered through PlayStation Plus' Instant Game Collection. The Offerings features the games currently available and, at a glance, the average rating of each game (via Metacritic), average time to complete each game (via HowLongToBeat's combined average times), and a breakdown of available Trophies by type (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum). This gives you quick access to see if a game is well received, if it's something bite-sized or if it's meaty enough to sink one's teeth into, and an idea of what Trophy gains are available (if that's your thing).

This is the first month that the much-discussed change to PlayStation Plus' Instant Game Collection has rolled out. Content-wise, nothing is changing with The Offerings as a post; I'm still going to breakdown each title as I have for the past couple of months. But since I only have to write this update once a month to detail the new titles being offered, that leaves the other three weeks of the month to do something different - like write more about the games themselves.

So from this post forward, here's what you can expect from me and the rest of the Short Pause crew: The first week of the month you'll get The Offerings. The following week, we'll bring you more complete thoughts on both of the PlayStation 3 titles offered for the month. Week three will see similar thoughts, but for the two Vita games. The final week of the month will be a look at the two PS4 titles. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Forever and always, just for you!

With that out of the way, let's take a look at July's Instant Game Collection.

It kind of seems like six games that seemed interesting at one point in time (and were never truly given the time of day they might have deserved) were thrown together by someone at PlayStation HQ as they asked "Has anyone played these games yet?" 

PlayStation 3

Dead Space 3 Gameplay Trailer

Confession time: I've never played a Dead Space game. That's actually only about 98% true - I watched a friend play the first one for about 15 minutes, and I eventually booted it up myself with intentions of playing, but for some reason I never actually invested any time on it. That said, I'm not completely lost with what's going on in the series, but my playtime with Dead Space 3 for next week's write up is sure to be interesting. As I understand it, the series became more actiony as the numbers in the title increased, but the franchise still retains some its horror roots. Reviews were a bit scattered, but appear favorable for the most part, so that's good.

What I like to do when I look at the Trophy list, but before I start almost any game, is look for which Trophies are easy to snag before getting too far into the game (a good "for instance" here is using the in-game photo tools in WipEout HD to take a picture for a Bronze). After that, I'll take note of anything that I might not've thought to do, but most likely doesn't require too much effort, and Dead Space 3 has a couple of those: A Bronze for shooting a deer head trophy in a particular room, another for sharing blueprints for a weapon you've created in a co-op game. The rest seem pretty story-driven, or are Trophies you'd get during a play-through of the story.

When I look at story related Trophies, I enjoy looking to see what the player drop-off is like as the game progresses. For Dead Space 3, 96% of the people who started the game completed the Prologue, but only 58% actually completed the game. Was it the difficulty that made them stop? The story? Was it boring? I can't answer any of these questions as they relate to this game, but I can tell you that Ben would be disappointed in 42% of the Dead Space 3 gamers out there for not finishing what they started - he's a completionist.

Vessel

Vessel was originally released on PC in 2012 and received mostly positive reviews for its inventiveness in the side-scrolling, puzzle-platforming genre. It came to PSN earlier this year where I haven't heard a peep about it, if I'm honest. I will say that, being a fan of this style of game, I'm eager to give it a whirl. At 9 - 12 hours long, I'm not sure how long my whirl will actually last, but I've spent my fair share of time on other - possibly lesser - endeavors, so I guess we'll see where this takes me.

Vita

It's being billed as one of this month's Vita games for PlayStation Plus subscribers to download, but Doki-Doki Universe is actually a Cross-Buy title across all three PlayStation platforms, so don't forget to grab it for the PS3 and PS4 as well!

Everything I've read or seen on Doki-Doki suggests that it's basically an interactive psychiatric evaluation disguised as a story about a robot trying to become more human. I like the idea that a game might be able to teach you more about the person that you are while masking it behind silly tasks. And of course I'm all about the Trophies one can earn along the way - blow kisses at 20 different characters? Hell, I'll blow kisses at all the characters!

Now I'm wondering what that says about me...

Muramasa Rebirth on PS Vita Launch Trailer

Vanillaware, more recently known for its work on Dragon's Crown, released Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Wii back in 2009. Earlier last year, Vanillaware remastered its critical hit for the Vita and Rebirth is the visually striking, hand-drawn and animated spectacle we were given. Vanillaware's steez is to combine light RPGish elements with mechanics that are a little more straight forward; Muramasa is a side-scrolling hack-n-slasher where stats and item management are brought to the forefront of tactical combat.

The game is rife with story-based Trophies that should take around 12 hours to gather, upwards of 16 if you want to dabble and go after some of the outliers.

Strider - Launch Trailer

If you're a newer visitor here at Short Pause, you might not know that Strider is one of the first reviews the staff ever did - this was even before I joined the site. As far as reception goes, the Short Pause sentiment falls right in-line with the rest of the Reviewniverse (that's a word I just made up): Praising Double Helix for developing a delightful reboot of the classic title in a Metroid-Vania mold, and lamenting the sterile environments and the analog-only character controls in a 2D game.

While Brent and Taz both enjoyed their time with Strider, it's Ben who maybe sorta loved it and is still seeking its Platinum Trophy 10+ hours later. He is a completionist.

TowerFall Ascension Launch Trailer

This year's E3 really accentuated the current trend for games to feature - if not exclusively exist for the sake of - local competitive and co-operative multiplayer. The resurgence of this mode of play is a welcome one, and the wind-up to this fever pitch was arguably brought about last year with the release of the Ouya's killer app, TowerFall. It took over half a year of Ouya exclusivity before it hit the PS4, but earlier this year, TowerFall Ascension finally did.

While competitive couch gaming is welcome, it's also the biggest complaint lobbed against this well-received title: TowerFall Ascension is at its absolute shining best only when you're playing with others. There's a single-player component - a quest mode and a challenge mode of sorts - but for maximum fun impact, you best have a second controller (at least) and a friend, family member, or loved one to join in on the fun.


I update The PlayStation Offerings monthly - as the new games roll out, or if any significant changes should occur. As outlined above however, I'll be playing the PlayStation 3 offerings (Dead Space 3 and Vessel) throughout the week and sharing my thoughts on both next Wednesday, July 9. Give them both a spin and come back to share your thoughts about them after checking out my own!

 In the meantime, let's talk! Let me know in the comments if there's any information you'd like to see included in this feature.