Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Needle meet haystack

So. The quest to find the One True Game* is not going well. I’ve reached the point in The Ringed City (Dark Souls III DLC) that I like the least. Hm. Well. I actually don’t like any of it, but the part that is the least enthusiastic for me to slog through. The end part, is what I’m saying. Despite me loving the last boss, Gael, even though I hate fighting him because of his hyper-defenses, but he’s a spectacular boss, I just find this part of the DLC tedious. It’s the part of running by Midir for the first time and fighting him on the bridge to the end.

I hate the Midir fight. I hate the Half Spears fight. I hate fighting the Gael fight (even though I love the fight itself and the lore). I just–hate everything about it. Yes, I could just skip it and go into NG+ because I have nothing to prove (have killed all the bosses in this game solo). Will I? No. The completionist in me won’t stand for it. I also have to kill the Champion’s Gravetender & Gravetender Greatwolf, which is not that hard as a Pyro, but I really loathe this boss fight. Mostly, I hate the Champion’s Gravetender because he’s bullshit, but anyway, I don’t want to do it. Nobody likes this fight, and I can never get any summons for it, so I’ve left it for now. It’s in the first DLC. There are ways to cheese it (which I’ve just looked up, and they all involve arrows). People are really smart and creative, I must say. I can’t even imagine how they thought up some of this cheese.

Anyhow, Dark Souls III is the most replayable of the Souls games to me, but I really don’t like the DLC. I’ve explained why in past posts so I’ll leave it at that. At any rate, it’s the reason I haven’t played the game in the past few days. I just don’t want to deal with the bullshit.

Side Note: I was talking to someone in a stream chat about The Surge because they asked if it ever got tedious, and I said candidly that the levels were very samesy and that it dragged on too long. I also said that the bosses weren’t that memorable and that it was hard to switch between weapon ‘classes’ because you gained proficiency when you used the weapon. Which, I hastened to add, I liked in general. You *should* get proficiency when you use a weapon. And, because I like to grind in games like this, I was able to get my second class (twin-rigged) nearly the same level as my first (single-rigged). In addition, there were implants that could bump up the proficiency of the different classes, so that helped.

Anyway, continuing the side note, the other person thanked me for being so honest, and I was taken by surprise. Why wouldn’t I be honest about a game? Stanning for…well, anything or anyone is beyond my ken. Liking something doesn’t mean thinking it’s perfect in my mind, and I don’t identify with anything or anyone as a core to my identity. I liked The Surge a great deal, much more than I thought I would because I hated Lords of the Fallen, but I am well aware that it is far from a perfect game. It’s too long and feels padded in the last third. The environments blend from one to the next. The main character is bland and boring. The shortcuts are too many and miss the point of being a shortcut. The enemies are not varied, and, for the most part, not that interesting (in and of themselves. Chopping off limbs never got old). The bosses save two are not memorable, and one of the memorable ones is memorable for all the wrong reasons.


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I don’t think I actually like video games

I came to a realization a few weeks ago that I may not actually like video games. Hear me out. I’ve been playing ‘hardcore’ games for roughly seven years. The first one was Torchlight, which I absolutely loved. I loved the protagonist who looked Asian if you squinted. I really loved that she came back as a voiced NPC in the sequel, and her voice was low and husky like mine. I loved that I could have a pet whom I could name and feed fish. The game was very addictive, and I immediately had the ‘just one more level’ feeling about it.

Diablo III was right after that, and I really dug that as well. Then the Borderlands, original and sequel, which I played for hundreds of hours. Then, I played Dark Souls, and everything changed. I could no longer play hack ‘n slashes afterwards because the combat was empty and unsatisfying. Yes, I played Skyrim afterwards and enjoyed it*, but I was a caster (of course), so I didn’t have to do much of the melee combat.

In all this time, I played dozens of games that I didn’t like. At all. Some that I really wanted to like and should have been up my alley, such as Alan Wake, and others that I just didn’t like at all. Like Arkham whatever. I’m not sure which game, but I hated the combat. I gave it a fair shake–a few hours–but I just didn’t click with it at all. Others, I liked, but there was one aspect that I just couldn’t stand that made me fall off it, such as Sleeping Dogs, which I call Sleepy Dawgs for reasons that should be obvious. I really liked it, not in a small part because of the badass Asian male protagonist, but the driving suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. I can’t emphasize that enough. I didn’t love the combat as it’s similar to the Batman combat, but I could hack that. It was the driving that I haaaaaaaaaaated. I distinctly remember the incident that made me quit. I had to follow a wedding cake truck (long boring story) to get the cake back. After failing it twice, I was DONE. When I went back to try it again much later, I accidentally erased my saved game because United Front Games, the devs, made the inexplicable decision to put New Game at the top of the queue rather than Load Game like everyone else, and there are no saved files in the game–at least when I played. That was it for me. No way I was playing the game again, and I have not.


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Let’s talk about Life is Strange tangentially

Life is Strange is a game that should be up my alley. It’s an immersive story about a disaffected young woman named Max Caulfield who is at a private school for photography. I don’t know if that’s the official explanation, but that’s what I garnered. By the way, I spent the first ten minutes or so of the game thinking that Max was named after the protagonist of Catcher in the Rye until I remembered his name was Holden.

Anyway, it’s a critically-acclaimed indie game by Dontnod Entertainment. Well, the studio is indie, but it was published by Microsoft. And apparently Squeeeenix (Square Enix) was involved at some point. It was released in episodes, and I waited until it came out in one game to buy it because, sale, and I don’t like to buy things episodically. What if they fold before the final episode? I don’t want that to happen to me as I have a hard enough time with endings.

The game, as I said, is about Max Caulfield, and she’s in a small town in Oregon after having been away for several years. When we join our young heroine, she is in a photography class. The teacher is someone who was a big photographer in the past, and he’s the reason Max wanted to go to the school. He irritated me from the start, but I tried to suspend my irritation and give him the benefit of the doubt. He continued to irritate me because he reminded me of countless hipster white dudes with a modicum of talent who thought they were way better than they actually were.

Side note: I have very strong reactions to things, and I rarely change from my immediate impression. Especially if the immediate reaction is negative. I have liked things and gone off them, but if I hate something from the start, it’s very difficult to change my mind. If I’m not crazy about something, but there’s a spark there, then I might change my mind over time.

For example, during their 7-hour Dark Souls livestream, Rory from RKG mentioned Aoife Wilson and Johnny Chiodini from Eurogamer and that they were also doing a Dark Souls playthrough. DS III, I believe. He said they were lovely (and friends of RKG) and if you liked Dark Souls playthroughs, you should check them out. Someone said they came to RKG after hearing them mentioned by Johnny and Aoife. I just reached that episode, and it’s hilarious that they cite one of my favorite early-on moments from the current season of DS II. After the creation of Mama Finchy, Gav wants to see what she looks like, so Rory has her in her bra and bloomers from the back. Then he starts humming the beginning of Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain, turns Mama Finchy to face the camera, and Gav and Rory shout, “Let’s go, girls!” I laughed out loud at that.


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Point-and-click hit-and-miss

what a nice night for murder.
Thimbleweed Park is lovely, I’ll give it that.

I like mystery novels. A lot. I read them, and I write them, and my god, I want to find a good mystery game. I have tried. My god. I have tried so hard. I’ve played the Poirot games. I’ve played many of the Sherlock Holmes games. I’ve played the Blackwell series. Any time a good point-and-click comes out, I eventually try it out, hoping against hope that this will be the one. I had really high hopes for Murdered: Soul Suspect, and I played it well past the point where I actually gave a damn about it. It had such a good idea. You’re a cop who used to be with a gang but cleaned yourself up well. Your wife is murdered (I think? I don’t remember. She’s definitely dead), and you become more of a loose cannon after her demise. That leads you to chasing after a killer without backup. The killer kills you (not a spoiler, really, as it happens in the first ten minutes or so), and for the rest of the game, you are a ghost trying to figure out what happened to you. In the meantime, you help other ghosts free themselves from this realm by figuring out how they were killed. I mean. This is right up my alley. Murder! Mayhem! Detecting! Paranormal activity! Helping other beings with their lives! It has ‘me’ written all over it. It should have hit me in all my sweet spots…er….but it didn’t. I can’t tell you why, either, not exactly.

I really enjoyed Kathy Rain, a badass chick who has to explore her past, and this is set in the…I want to say eighties. I put up with the usual point-and-click bullshit (esoteric logic that only makes sense to the developers) and relied on the walkthrough for the puzzles. I put up with backtracking for hours through four or five different rooms so I could pick up one thing from the one room, trek to the fifth room to use the thing, then bring the thing from the fifth room to the second room to do the thing that I knew I was going to have to do when I passed through it, but I couldn’t do at the time because I didn’t have the thing from the fifth room–that I couldn’t pick up when I first saw it. I put up with all that because I loved Kathy Rain–the character, I mean.

So, I liked the game despite the shortcomings of the format. It was the writing that drew me in, and I cared about what happened to Kathy. I wanted to know why her father disappeared when she was a kid and why her mom went crazy (I think. It’s been some time since I played it). So, it was to my dismay when in the third act–

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Going back to my comfort gaming–Dark Souls III

back into the groove.
Fire to the face, Iudex!

I did it. I reinstalled Dark Souls III on my laptop. When I’m sick and exhausted, I can’t play a new game. I don’t have the bandwidth to figure things out, especially as I tend to like so-called difficult games. I know it’s a funny thing to say, but Dark Souls games are comfort food for me, and, yes, I mean specifically Dark Souls and not Bloodborne or Sekiro. Although, I will say the latter was pretty easygoing until the end game, but it’s not the same as Dark Souls.

I’m going to say something rather controversial in the Souls community, but I don’t give a fuck, obviously. Dark Souls III is my favorite of the Souls games to play*, and I’ve beaten it probably twenty times. Because I’m tired, depressed, and weary, I’m taking the road most traveled–being a Pyro. Then, adding strength later on so I can wield my beloved Lorian’s Greatsword.

How’s it going? Kinda rough, I gotta say. The buttons are similar, but just different enough to mess me up. Iudex Gundyr, the tutorial boss, has never given me a problem as a Pyro. He’s weak to fire, especially in his second phase, and I can finish him off without even getting close. However. A (Xbox One) is jump in Sekiro, and it’s really fucking important to use it in combat. B is dodge step, and it’s ostensibly usable in combat, but not really. I used it minimally, and I used A every fight. On the other hand, A in Souls is pick up an item, talk to someone, etc, which, obviously, has no use in a fight. B is roll, which is god in Souls. So, Iudex was coming for me in his abyss-y, snaky form, and I pressed A and did–nothing. I frantically pressed it several times until I died.

That’s been my biggest problem so far. I’m up to the Road of Sacrifices, and I’ve died…six times I think. Once to Iudex (embarrassing) and once because I forgot jump is to click in the left thumbstick, which is just bad mapping and once because my cheese for the Darkwraith at the bottom of the elevator (make him fall into the elevator maw) didn’t work the first time. One of my problems with not dying as much in this game is that there is a mechanic that is built upon dying. There is a PC, Yoel of Londor, who offers to ‘Draw Out True Strength’–which is free levels. Of course, nothing is free in a Dark Souls game, and you get the hollowing curse from Yoel.

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Romance and vidya games

on paper, a good fit.
Does it tick all the boxes?

Back in the Stone Ages, I waded into the world of online dating. This was before CupidOK became huge, and waaaaay before Bumble. I was and am a cheap gal, so I only used the freebies such as Craigslist and Plenty of Fish. I waded through a lot of responses (see what I did there? Waded? Fish? Never mind), and the results were very much a mixed bag. I mostly posted in Casual Encounters because I was just looking for Netflix and chill at the time, but I did post in the dating section from time to time as well.

Do you know what I remember the most? Dick pics. Lots and lots of dick picks. Even when I specifically said not to send them. By the way, that’s the other thing I remember about that time–dudes don’t read the ads themselves. My ad specifically said that I did not want dick pics or Asian fetishists, and the vast majority of my replies started with, “I looooooove Oriental girls!” I never included a picture in my ads, so it wasn’t even my specific look, but just ‘Oriental girls’ in general. Let me tell you, there is nothing that warms a gal’s heart more than knowing she’s interchangeable with literally millions of other women.

I vividly remember one guy proudly writing that he was a member of the 8-inch club. What’s worse, he included a picture of him having sex with a woman, but don’t worry! He black-barred her eyes, so it made it totally ok. Now, maybe she was fine with him bandying about a picture of her getting fucked, but I highly doubted she even knew. In addition, OW NO! I don’t know why guys are so hung up (pun not intended, but snickered at, anyway) on size. Most women who enjoy copulating with men aren’t size queens, and I think, just as women dress up for other women, men are stuck on dick size because of other men. Someone pointed out years later when I relayed the story that sending a pic of him having sex defeated the purpose of his boast, anyway. Which, true, but also did not need to think about. Thirdly, it’s so easy to lie about dick size. Who’s going to pull out a ruler and measure?

I was looking for women concurrently, but I only ran into women who were in couples and ‘allowed’ to play with a third. I’m not against that situation, but it felt gross to me reading ad after ad from women who made sure to mention their husband/boyfriend and how he was fine with them playing around, but only if they (boyfriend/husband) was present. Again, I’m not against a threesome as I’ve done them in my past, but it just grossed me out that the ‘bi’ part of these women felt so performative or at the behest of someone else.

I found online dating to be mostly a loss for me. I tend towards inertia in general, and communicating with someone online–I could do that indefinitely. Going out and actually meeting them? Not so much. I only had one instance of an in-person meeting working out well, and that was only for a few months, anyway before I got dumped because of my opinion on Pulp Fiction.  Yes, for real, and, no, I’m not going to talk about it because it’s not the point of the post. Yes, I know, that hasn’t stopped me before, but moving right along.

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End of Sekiro and I can’t play Return of the Obra Dinn

I’ve been romping through NG+ in Sekiro and not being fazed by much of anything. I two-shot Madame Butterfly and got Genichiro in half a dozen tries. The boss who gave me the hardest time was a mini-boss: Seven Ashina Spears–Shikibu Toshikatsu Yamauchi. It’s always the fucking spear guys that mess with my shit. I died to him seven or eight times, and I can’t imagine having to fight him for both Deathblows. By the way, it’s still one of my irritation about the game. Most of the mini-bosses can be stealth Deathblowed to start the fight, so why bother? In fact…I’ll get to that in a minute. No, I can talk about it now. The toughest boss until the very end game was the True Corrupted Monk. In my first playthrough, I cheesed by doing a stealth Deathblow for her first two pips, then just fought her normally for her third phase. I did that by intentionally dying any time I couldn’t pull off the first or second stealth Deathblow, so I ‘died’ to her more times than I actually count as deaths.

This time, I went in for the first stealth Deathblow, and I didn’t get the big red glowing dot. I let myself be killed so I could try it again. I figured I hadn’t lined it up correctly, so I tried it again. And again. I did it half a dozen times before fighting her first phase, then dying in the second phase. I tried it several more times, and I never got it. I mean, I’m not the greatest with spatial awareness, but it wasn’t *that* hard to get the first Deathblow. I finally looked it up, and it turns out they patched it out. Well then. Good to know. I had to fight the first phase the normal way and then try for the second Deathblow, hoping they didn’t patch that one out as well. I did that, and I got her on the first time I made it to the second phase (which did not have the stealth Deathblow patched out), and I moved on.

So, yeah. I was making it through the game at about a tenth of the time it took me on my first playthrough. I did some farming to get the skills I have yet to acquire, and I managed to get the one that costs 9 skill points which took me a goddamn long time. I would do it by going through an area and killing a boss, which at this point, took me tot maybe half a skill point, then I would go to Ashina Castle Antechamber and farm. Or Gun Fort. I would do this until I went past the next skill point and bank it, then I would go to the next area. I accrued a ton of sen in this manner as well, which was really pointless as I have nothing to spend it on except Spirit Emblems. I’ve ended up buying sugars and potions and such because I don’t want to lose the sen, but it’s just luxury at this point.

Side Note: I’ve mentioned that one tip I kept reading about how to survive in Sekiro was to buy coin purses to save your sen. They’re like consumable souls, and you buy them at a 10% markup. You don’t loses the purses upon death, so the rationale is that if you’re, say, going into a boss and know you’ll die a lot, better to have 90% of your sen than none of it. I understand that. I don’t disagree with that. My quibble is with the overemphasize on saving sen. In my first playthrough, I was never hurting for it. Never. If there was something that was a bit more expensive (such as Madame Butterfly’s Phantom Kunai for 3,000 sen, which is a ton at the point in the game when you can buy it), I’d grind for it. My early game grind spot, a stretch of the Hirata Estate, netted me 500 sen in 5 minutes (1,000 with the Mibu Balloon of Wealth), so it wasn’t a big deal.


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Point-and-click away from the genre

a ghost is taunting me.
KayKay is not impressed with my throwing skills.

I started Unavowed with cautious optimism because it had gotten rave reviews. It’s made by Wadjet Eye Games, and they are much revered in the world of point-and-clicks. As I mentioned before, however, I loathed their Blackwell series, which everyone else (who likes the genre) adored. I tried two of those, finishing one, and I hated every second. It’s a shame, too, because they should be right up my alley. Psychics and paranormal activity, people going crazy, all of it gold. Yet, the bullshit of the genre really stood out early on, and I could never get over.

To recap, the bullshit includes having to go to a ‘room’, doing one thing, going to a room three rooms away to do another thing, then pick up an esoteric thing and bring it back to the first room to do something else. In the beginning of Unavowed, they avoided this trope, and I was pleased. All the puzzles were logical, and, yes, you might have to traverse the same terrain several times, but it didn’t feel forced. The first two chapters were solid, and I was hopeful that it would continue to be a good game.

I liked the story, even if it was a bit contrived. My character, mulan rogue (I always name my characters that when I can), is an actor (could have chosen cop or bartender as my ‘class’), and the game starts with a demon being cast out from inside me. Then, we go back in time and find out how I happened to be inhabited by a demon, and the rest of the game is finding out what the demon was doing while in my body and for what purpose. It’s interesting to run into people who knew me from my demon-infested time and to see how they react to me in the present. I chose to be a woman, too, and I wonder what would have been different if I chose man or demon. I’m especially intrigued about demon, but I have a hunch it’ll just say something like, “That’s not your real self. Try to remember!” and make me pick man or woman.

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FromSoft games are the ideal

come at me, bro!
Super-Biggie is MUCH less intimidating with a +10 Zwei.

What do I want from a video game? It’s been on my mind for, well, ever since I became obsessed with FromSoft games, but especially after finishing Sekiro. To be fair, though, I go through this every time I finish a FromSoft game because I become so engrossed with them. Also because I get exhausted after FromSoft games and wonder why I give so much to them when they don’t care about me at all. Ok, that’s not fair. They give me a lot, otherwise I wouldn’t play them, right? But it’s a bit like an abusive relationship–right up to the point of beating the game.

I wrote this post about other games I like and what I like about them. I hadn’t even touched on the FromSoft games, which is the basis of my video game enjoyment. Everything I know and love is based on my time with the FromSoft games, and it’s one reason I have a hard time with most Souls-like games. The closer the game is to a Souls game, the more I just want to play Souls. It’s the question I have in the back of my head: Would I rather be playing Souls? To be fair, I ask that question in general, but it’s more pronounced when I play deliberate Souls-inspired games. If you are trying to make your game like Dark Souls, then I’m going to be judging it by that rubric. I’ll name-drop one Souls-like that I actually quite enjoyed, but had one thing that really bugged me. Salt & Sanctuary. It was almost a 2D Souls clone, and it made very clear that it wanted nothing more than to be Dark Souls. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing because they knew what they wanted, and they did it for the most part. The one thing that drove me crazy was that they changed the roll button. I think it was RT, and I tried it for half an hour or so before giving in and changing it to B. ROLL IS B, DAMN IT! It’s always B! I’m glad I could change it, but I heard that when it came out on the PS4, it wasn’t rebindable. I mean….I understand wanting to make your game distinguishable in some ways, but not by changing one of the building blocks of the Souls games.

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What I want when I game

I’m in between games right now. I haven’t played Sekiro in several days, and I haven’t really had the wherewithal to pick up something else. I’ve been dealing with a cold/sinus issues, and it’s really wiped me out. I end up playing solitaire because that’s about what my mind can deal with right now. It’s also what happens after I play a FromSoft game. I get so drained by it, I have no desire to try anything else. I will say, I’m watching footage of the closed alpha for Nioh 2, and it looks really dope. I bailed on the original game halfway through even though I thought it was a good game for two reasons. One, I hated that if you left a level, you had to start it over the next time you went back. My MO if I’m getting my ass kicked by a boss is to go farm up shit (like Elixirs, the healing drinks, which is another issue in itself. I hate farming for healing items or buying them). The easiest way to do that is to go back to an earlier area in order not to have to use heals to get through it. If I did that, though, then I’d have to do the whole level up to the boss I was currently fighting again. Doing that for the last boss I fought was not something I wanted to do at all. I ended up farming on that level using Onmyo Magic for free heals (hey, it’s been ages since I’ve played. That’s the best I can remember) and tapping out when I actually had to use a heal. It wasn’t optimal, but it did work. I resented not being able to choose to go back to an earlier level, though. I really, really, really hope they make that change for Nioh 2. I did notice that they simplified some of the names of the level ups. Onmyo to Magic, for instance. I don’t have an issue with this because while I’m a big fan of obscurity, I’m also a big fan of not wasting souls. Or amrita, as I think it’s called in Nioh. But! There is a rolling cat ball in the Nioh 2 closed alpha demo, so I’m in!

There are two games I have my eye on that are actually in my pile of shame. One is Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope. I have talked about this game before and I’ll talk more about it later because I will be mentioning Papers, Please, the seminal game by Pope. It’s one of my favorite games of all time, which is why I’ll talk about it later. The second game is Unavowed, which is an adventure mystery demon game. It sounds right up my alley, and I am desperately looking for an adventure mystery game I can sink my teeth into. I’ve tried several, and this is made by the highly-respected Wadjet Eye Games. They are revered in the genre, which is part of the problem. I hated the Blackwell series they did, and it’s one of the gold standards of the genre. I had to use a walkthrough to get past the first chapter of whichever game I tried. I think I tried two–I have almost all of them because hope springs eternal and they were cheap and I’m an idiot. My biggest gripe about adventure games is that their logic is not logical. They have certain events you need to do in a certain order, and it’s not intuitive at all. I mean, it probably seemed that way as they were dreaming them up, but in retrospect, they aren’t at all. Maybe if I’ve played a million of them, the logic will be immediately apparent, but it wasn’t as I was playing them. I resorted to using the walkthrough for the rest of the Blackwell game I played. I’m hoping against hope that they’ve upped their game concerning logic, but given how much people swoon over their games, I fear they consider it a feature and not a bug.


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