Atma’s Gameplay – May 9, 2023

It’s a new month, so it’s time for another edition of a random assortment of reviews from yours truly! I have a few new games to hit on this time around because I have no self-control and also a very short attention span. So here we go, let’s do this thing!



In Carrion, which is basically a reverse survival horror game, you control a bloodthirsty eldritch creature that escapes from containment and starts terrorizing and infesting the secret lab around it. It’s a pretty neat concept and I had an absolute ball while I was schlorping and devouring my way across the different levels. It plays a little like a Metroidvania, where as you progress you unlock new abilities by absorbing other DNA in containment. But there isn’t a lot of exploration – each new ability basically funnels you into the next section, and backtracking with your new ability doesn’t unlock new areas but instead you get bonus DNA that enhance your biomass but aren’t necessary for progression. Things like being less flammable or being able to absorb more electricity (which allows you to use your special abilities more often) for example.

The game also frequently throws interesting puzzles at you, so your time is spent 50/50 with eating humans and figuring out how to navigate to the next room to eat more humans. There are a few types of enemies that are tough to take on, but the majority of the fun of the game is how you just get to burst into a room and cause havoc as all the tiny pixelated humans scream for mercy.

I definitely scared my girlfriend by making weird monster noises as I devoured the NPCs and also laughing evilly maybe a little too much.

It doesn’t last super long – I was able to completely platinum the game in a few hours – but it has some really great level design and doesn’t overstay its welcome either. This easily could have drawn itself out too long to the point where you started thinking “okay, this was cute at first but when is this gonna end” but instead they kept it at the perfect length for the novelty to not wear out by the time I was done. I also never got tired of shoving a giant biomass of tentacles into a tiny little elevator and then hitting the switch to watch myself travel in the most mundane way possible.

I don’t think there’s another experience quite like Carrion and I’d say it’s worth the time if you have a few hours and like being the horror instead of fighting it.

Star Wars: Jedi Survivor


I have a lot to say about Jedi Survivor so this will probably do double-duty between here and on the podcast, but for a quick summary: in a lot of ways this is exactly the Star Wars game I always dreamed about as a kid.

The first game – Jedi: Fallen Order – was calibrated to be a little too much like a Dark Souls clone. Cal felt like he was sightseeing in the Star Wars universe. Yes, he had some good interactions with his crew and his companion droid BD-1 is a delight, but you never visited anything truly Star Wars-y and the crew was always hanging around the ship and not interacting with the planets you visited. You made pit stops with the resistance on Kashyyyk but it didn’t feel like you were actually visiting the Wookiee home planet. Instead it felt like you were visiting a video game level within the framework of Kashyyyk.

Jedi: Survivor fixes this by making the main planets you visit larger and more dense, but also inhabited by people. There’s a pub that serves as a hub that starts off quiet but becomes bustling as you progress through the game. You can recruit a DJ to play tunes (all of which are from bands in-universe), you can play holotactics games with other bar patrons, or you can just chat up the locals who all have distinct personalities. It feels like a planet in the Star Wars universe and not just a linear video game level where you’re going from point A to point B.

The combat is improved but you spend way too much of it fighting creatures and wildlife instead of going up against Stormtroopers and other human enemies. The game’s combat shines when you get to have cool one-on-one duels and they feel few and far between again. You also get several new stances that add to the complexity of the combat. I’m having a lot of fun with the Blaster Stance, which adds ranged capability to combat but also basically gives you a Bloodborne-style parry with your gun and it feels awesome once you get the timing down.

I’d say I’m maybe halfway done with the game so far but not 100% sure – I’m definitely vibing with this out of the gate much more than the F. I just did a cinematic setpiece that puts Uncharted to shame and loved every second of it. Jedi: Survivor really makes you feel like a Jedi even more than the first game did. I haven’t had any performance issues so far and only one crash, so I seem to have been lucky in my experience – as of right now this is a definite Game of the Year contender in a year chock full of them.

Terra Nil


I was looking for something to chill to and relax with after getting tired of playing more complex games and Terra Nil fit the bill perfectly. It’s a reverse city builder (reverse seems to kind of be the theme of this month’s games, huh?) where instead of building out and destroying nature, you’re reclaiming the wilderness of a polluted world and reestablishing a thriving ecosystem, then leaving without a trace.

It’s a fun little strategy game and while it is chill and easygoing, it’s not easy by any means. You have to think through how you’re going to use your energy correctly to create optimal environments. You also get energy bonuses based on hitting humidity and temperature goals that reflect the ideal climate of the current biome you’re developing. Making sure you don’t overextend your building without a way to recoup used energy is the main strategical aspect of the game.

You also have a pretty standard toolset across all the biomes so as you get familiar with how to efficiently place and use all the different tools, the game becomes even more chill. Like Carrion, this is a pretty short game. There are only four total regions and the time to credits for me was under 4 hours of playtime. Unlike Carrion, though, four more regions unlock in the post-credits giving you more to do if you crave more relaxing vibes.

This isn’t a strategy game that’s very deep – if you’re craving a Civilization or other 4X style simulation this won’t scratch that itch. But if you want a game that has immaculate vibes and very satisfying-to-use tools and is great to just relax with while listening to a podcast or whatever, Terra Nil is perfect for that.

Final Fantasy XIV


It’s been a while since I really talked about FFXIV. It’s casually overtaken Slay the Spire and Overwatch as game I’ve put the most total hours into – as of typing this my playtime on my main character is at 41 days, 13 hours, 9 minutes. That’s basically 3 hours shy of 1000. Now granted, I do leave myself AFK sometimes so it is definitely inflated a bit, but still – that’s a hefty sum of gaming time.

I’ve put a lot more time into it recently – while I didn’t spend a lot of time playing post-patch when the 6.1 and 6.2 updates hit, after 6.3 hit I really went to town on leveling my alternate jobs for my character. I went from 1 max level DPS job to 3 max level DPS, 1 max level Tank, and 2 max level Gatherer/Crafters jobs. I’m also currently leveling a Healer class that I should be able to get to max level soon – probably not before 6.4 drops but definitely before 7.0.

If none of that makes any sense to you, I’m sorry. The FFXIV MMO linguistics have overtaken my brain.

I never thought I would be this into an MMO, but here we are. It’s basically taken up the mantle as my “Games as a Service” pick. GaaS has flooded the market in a way where many games expect you to play them consistently and constantly – daily mission grinds and check-ins and the like. FFXIV fills that spot so cleanly for me that I can’t imagine picking a second one – the daily duty roulettes are like second nature to me now and I love doing trials and raids over and over again to memorize the patterns.

I haven’t even really dipped my toe into a lot of what the game has to offer, though, and that’s why this game is so good in my opinion. There’s so much you can do and whatever scratches your personal itch is how you can spend your time. Do you want to always have the highest gear and do the impossible raid tiers that takes hours and hours of work with 7 other people? Do you want to just chill and develop your own personal island? Do you want to just go through dungeons and level every job you can as high as possible? Or do you just want to play for the story and unsubscribe in between the big expansions? All of that is welcome and easy to accomplish in the game, and if you don’t participate in one of these it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

FFXIV is my safety blanket right now. I know if I want to I can just boot it up and play for a little bit and feel good. I never get mad after playing it (unlike say, Marvel Snap). I never feel like some combat mechanics are bullshit (unlike say, Wo Long). It’s just good fun to me and I hope everyone has a game like this. You complete me, Final Fantasy XIV.

Quick update on the unfinished games from last month:

Wo Long has been abandoned. Just wasn’t feeling it. Resident Evil 4 Remake is on hold – I’m planning to jump back to it after I’m done with Jedi: Survivor, but I was really getting frustrated with some things about the game and needed a break. Chained Echoes is still going strong – I’m at 35 hours and I think I’m about to hit the last act of the game, it’s really scratching my JRPG itch right now. After I’m done with that I’m planning on starting the FF Pixel Remasters on Switch, so you can hopefully look forward to something on at least one of those next month. Until then!