Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

At Least I Know What I Don’t Like

it was made for my hands.
I love my Xbone controller so hard.

I’ve written before how since I’ve finished the Souls series* I’ve been struggling to find a game that I enjoy playing. I heard about this game called Unexplored, which has been described as a cross between Dark Souls and Binding of Isaac. I’ve played the shit out of both of these games/series, and I’ve always said I wanted to play a hybrid. It went on sale at Steam for nine bucks, so I snatched it up. It’s a really cute dungeon crawler in which you’re a one-eyed fluffy circle creature with a cape that has a weapon poking out in front and a side weapon you can throw. Before you enter the dungeon, you talk to this guy, and he gives you tips on the dungeons. You have to buy him beers (5 gold each), and the tips don’t seem that helpful yet.

It’s easy to see the Souls/Isaac influences from the very start. A little bit of Enter the Gungeon, too. The tutorial is straight out of Gungeon, but I didn’t even notice it was there until after I’d done a few failed runs. There will be many comparisons to Souls/Isaac because that’s what the game is clearly modeling itself after. Even with the tutorial, there isn’t much said before you jump into the game. I used keyboard/mouse, but there is gamepad support. However, according to the forums, it’s not intuitive, so I stuck to the keyboard/mouse with the typical WASD movement. I had to switch my keyboard from Dvorak to QWERTY, but I’m just glad I was able to do it. Some games consider this a problem. E is look, which is weird, and TAB is map. I’d prefer M for map, but that’s a little thing. I played on Normal, which was…weird. On the first floor in the first dungeon, I wandered around exploring everything. What I found was a lot of…nothing. I ran into maybe a half dozen enemies and a couple of puzzles, but that’s it. I went down to the next floor, and it was more of the same.

When I die, it’s a perma-death, and the next run is the heir of the first character. So, Mulan Rogue the first gives way to Mulan Rogue the second, etc. I don’t think you keep anything other than your gold for the next run. You start with different items, and I believe it’s procedurally-generated. You can right-click and see what they do, but true to rogues, some things need to be identified. Scrolls, potions, and rings are what I’ve found so far. Scrolls and potions are identified the second you use them (and, also true to rogues, some are positive and some are negative), but I had to wear the ring for five minutes before I knew what it did.

There are libraries with cryptic books, which you can take or copy to your journal. I chose to copy more often than not because there is a limited inventory, of which I am not fond. I hate limited inventories with a passion, and the one mod I used when I played Skyrim was the Convenient Horse mod, which allowed me to carry unlimited items. I do like finding the lore by reading books, which is similar to reading item descriptions in Souls games. I don’t mind finding things out in drips and drabs.

What I don’t like is persistent status effects with no antidote, pun intended. There was one level that had a gas atmosphere, and I couldn’t find a way to counter it. I had to go through it, but my health was dropping at an alarming rate. I lost all interest in the run. To make matters worse, when I was in the middle of a good run, the game started freezing on me, and I had to shut down the game. This happened again, and I lost any interest in playing it.

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Suggestions From a Filthy Casual

mad libs in effect.
I need to find a shoe, a hammer, and a cellphone!

Way before I ventured into the strange world of hardcore gaming, I was a dedicated practitioner of casual games. I’ve never given them up completely, and now while I’ve been sick for three months, sometimes, a casual game is all my brain can handle. Hidden Object Games (HOGs), Match-3, Solitaire, Time Management, I like ’em all. I have a much lower expectation of them than I do hardcore games because one, they’re churned out like processed meat at a rapid pace, and, two, they’re much less expensive than hardcore games. I am a member of BigFishGames.com, and a Standard Edition (SE) game is $6.99, whereas a Collector’s Edition (CE) is $13.99. In addition, the expectations are different when I play a casual game than when I play a hardcore one. I play casual games just to relax, so I’m not as critical about them as I am with hardcore games. That being said, there are several tropes in casual games that are way past their expiration date, and I would like to make some suggestions as to how to make them better. Most of my suggestions are for HOGs, but some of them apply across the board. I’ll indicate which games are the worst offenders for each trope I’m going to dissect.

Let’s start at the beginning. Literally. When I start up a HOG, I know I’m going to be greeted with a cutscene. Here’s a weird fact about when I play casual games–I play them with the sound off. It’s weird because I always play with the sound on with hardcore games, but I play with the sound muted for casual games. Why? First of all, the sound is jacked up in comparison to how loud it should be. Additionally, many of them have music that plays throughout the whole game, and I don’t want that in my ear the whole time I’m playing. Secondly, voice acting in casual games is usually atrocious, and I’d rather read the text than hear them speak. Anyway, the fact that I can’t fiddle with the settings before the cutscene starts is irritating to me. I would sit through the cutscene and read the text if that were an option, but because it isn’t, I simply skip the cutscene instead.

By the way, there are some things in casual games that will make it a no-go before I even get started. Oh! One of the best things about casual games and using a client service like BGF is that every game has a free demo. It used to be an hour, regardless, but now it’s more like a set amount of story/scenes that a developer wants you to see. I’m fine with that, but it seems as if more and more games are creating their games for that hour point and end on a cliff hanger, which is understandable, but somewhat irritating. Anyway, my top egregious sins are: One, not allowing for windowed mode. There is no excuse for this. None. Two, not being able to mute the music. Again, there’s no excuse for it. I have a hunch that the developers of casual games are not as experienced or knowledgeable as are hardcore developers, but it can’t be that difficult to code window mode or muting the sound. Not being able to skip cutscenes is also a non-starter for me. Basically, if I’m not in control of my gaming experience, I’ll tap out. I’m not as strict about resolution settings because that doesn’t matter as much to me, but sound and window? Yeah.

Here are some of my micro annoyances with casual games. One, making it so I have to continually press a button to mute the sound–especially if you have to do each aspect separately. I don’t even like sliders, but they’re better than having to repeatedly press a button. I wish more games had a ‘mute all’ button, but that doesn’t seem to be a thing. Another is once I’ve fixed all the settings to my liking, as the game continues, it ignores what I’ve done and reverts to previous settings. If a game does that (say with cutscenes and sound), I instantly stop playing. Another weird thing many HOGs do is that you can change the difficulty in the settings, but if you do it before they specifically ask you to select your difficulty, they’ll still ask you, even if you change the difficulty. In addition, some games will change your whole computer’s resolution when you choose window mode, and that’s another game stopper for me. Obviously.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Five

Ed. Note: This is part five of my endless review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. I don’t want it to end, just like I don’t want the series to end. Read part four here

i'm sure we'll meet again.
Thanks for the tip, Uncle Gael!

So. Now that I’m done with the DLC, how do I feel about it overall? It’s hard to say. I played it one more time on my laptop* with the character I started while I was visiting Ian. She’s a strength/faith build because there’s a weapon, Morne’s Great Hammer, that takes 50/30 strength/faith to use, and I want to try it out. Unfortunately, it’ll take at least through the second playthrough to get the stats to use it, and then I may not have enough vitality to use it effectively. Right now, she has 29/40 and 13 vitality. The reason she has 40 faith is because I want to be able to use a lightning spell that takes 45 faith, which I can do with the Priestess Ring (adds ?5 faith). The problem is, though, I’m not going to be able to add 21 strength (or 16. I can wear the Knight’s Ring to add +5 to strength) plus whatever vitality I need in order to wear decent armor and heft the MGH. What I might do is respect just so I can play around with it, then respec again to a saner build once I’ve had my fill of the MGH.

I decided to take her through the DLC before writing this review so I could see if I still felt the same way I did when I first played it. This playthrough, I didn’t care at all about soloing the bosses, which made it so much easier, and, frankly, much more enjoyable. I ran through The Dreg Heap with little problem. It’s sounds silly to say, but knowing the way to go cuts out so much of the game’s difficulty. Not all of it, but a healthy portion of it. In addition, the patch that allowed Hidden Body to work was a godsend. The Laser Angels of Death (Technical name, Angels, but that’s my pet name for them) were incidental. They couldn’t harm me if they couldn’t see me, and I liberally used the Hidden Body spell to make sure they couldn’t see me.

Side note: I am not a stealth game player at all, but I love being able to stealth my way through the Souls games. I started another game (yeah, yeah, I know), another tank with a hint of dex, and I’m grumpy because I don’t have my Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo yet. I forget how much I rely on being able to sneak around and ignoring enemies that I don’t want to deal with. One of the reasons I use a 10/5 Estus Flask/Ashen Estus Flask split is so that I can Hidden Body my way around the game to my heart’s content. That’s another thing with being in the beginning part of the game–having to actually monitor my mana** use. By the end of the game, I rarely have to keep an eye on it unless I’m doing a specific mana-only fight, such as trying to kill the second wyvern in Archdragon Peak after first taking care of the Rock Lizards. Who, by the way, are probably the most adorable enemies in the game, even though they are so damn aggravating. They’re hardy little fucks, but I love the way they roll. Anyway, being able to run around an enemy unnoticed in order to backstab them is the best. There are a few enemies that are immune to the Hidden Body spell, which is infuriating. Is using the Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo (plus the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring to extend the length of Hidden Body) cheating? Hell no! It’s in the game.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Four

Ed. Note: This is part four (and hopefully, last) of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. Spoilers ahead, so don’t  read if you want to play the game fresh. Part three here

if only i could save Gael.
Uncle Gael is not looking so hot.

Once I finished everything with the DLC* with my two casters, there was only one thing left to do–confront Slave Knight Gael with my tank in NG++. At this point, I was rocking most of Havel’s armor set, the Black Iron Greatshield (BIG), and my beloved Quakestone Hammer +5 (found in the first DLC, and at its highest upgrade). I knew even with my tank, this was going to be a long and arduous journey for me, but I wanted to end the series on a high. Astute readers will note that I have not beat Darkeater Midir with my tank, and it’s because I don’t want to put the effort in to beat him solo, but there are way less summons in NG++ than in NG. Will I do it at some point? Maybe. But it’s not a pressing concern.

I can’t tell you how many times Uncle Gael wrecked my shit. I’m sure I lost to him in the first phase alone at least twenty times. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m old, and my reflexes aren’t great, so I’m not going to be able to roll out of the way in time if I don’t know the patterns. I heard a Dark Souls enthusiast disavow that the games are about rote memorization, but for someone like me, memorization of patterns is extremely important. I can’t just react to Gael’s movements because by the time I process that it’s happening, he’s already hit me. Once I can recognize his tells, however, then I have a chance of reacting properly.

You want to feel as if you’re making progress with each death, but I didn’t feel that way for a long time. At some point, I started experimenting with my armor, shield, and weapon. I knew he was weak to poison and frost because of my runs with my caster, and I decided to do something I don’t do much of in Souls games–infuse a weapon with a poison gem. The problem was, my Quakestone Hammer cannot be infused, so I had to choose another weapon. I mained the Greataxe +10 for most of the vanilla game, but the main drawback of it is that it has short reach. Gael’s weapon is really long, and his cape is even longer. I wanted a weapon with reach, so I bypassed my beloved Greataxe. The other problem was that I would want a fully upgraded weapon, of course, and I didn’t have very many of those. I did have a Greatsword that was either fully upgraded or nearly so, and I decided to go with that. I took it up to +10** and had Andre infuse it with poison. Then, I took it back to Filianore’s Rest to face Gael once again. Because it weighed more than my Quakestone Hammer, I had to lighten up my armor. I can’t tell you how much I fiddled with my loadout during this fight.

Side Note: One of the things Dark Souls does best is take you out of your comfort zone. I don’t always like it because I tend to glom on to one weapon, get comfortable with it, and take it through the game. I marvel at people who can switch weapons on the fly, but I’m not one of them. Part of my skill is knowing a particular weapon’s moveset well, and it takes me some time to adapt to a new one. However, when I’m able to pull it off, I feel like a god. For example, the infamous Ornstein & Smough fight. That fight almost broke me, and I nearly quit the game for good during the depths of my despair. I tried everything I could think of, but I could not beat that damn duo. In desperation, I did something I had never done before and would never do again: I put the Lightning Spear in my left hand and Quelaag’s Furysword in my right. I was maining the Furysword at this point, but I never used the Lightning Spear, and I never dual wield. Anyway, I took care of Small with my pyromancy, then girded my loins to take on Supercharged Biggie. I pulled out the Lightning Spear and the Furysword, and I swiped swiped left right when I had my chance. That’s how I beat Super Biggie, and it made me proud that I had adapted my playstyle to beat him. Them. Whatever. Granted, I never used that playstyle again, but still.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Three

Ed. Note: This is part three of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. There will be spoilers, so if you are going to play the game and want to do so unsullied, turn back! Part two  here

this can't be good.
Hey, Filianore. May I touch your egg?

Returning home from my vacation, I sat down to The Ringed City, determined to finish it. I still wasn’t looking forward to it, but I had already decided that I just wanted to finish it with my utility caster, no matter what. In addition, I wanted to see what my NG++ caster could do. She’s my darling, and I had her int/faith stats pumped up so I could use all the spells. I’ve complained many times about how people think magic is OP in souls games, but not in NG unless you pump one stat to the detriment of all the rest. In addition, in DS III, pyromancy scales with both intelligence and faith, but the faith perks don’t kick in until you hit 18 intelligence. I didn’t know this, of course, but I was wondering with my current character, the one I started on my laptop while I was on vacation, why my pyromancy wasn’t doing as much damage as I would have expected. I was gunning for a strength/faith build because there’s a weapon, Morne’s Great Hammer, that needs 50 strength and 30 faith. It’s similar to the Grant of the original game, which I could never use. It was such a weird build, I wanted to give it a try. However, there’s no way to reach those stats on NG. Well, very little. I’m currently level 84, and I started as a level 8 pyromancer.* Do the math. I was curious about the low damage output and Googled it. Found out you needed at least 18 int. for the faith perk to kick in. I pumped my int. to 18 and sure enough, that did it. I currently have 20 int.

Anyway, my first character, mulan (what I always name my first character), finally feels strong, and it only took until NG++. I wanted to take her through the DLC for a few reasons. One, she’s my girl. She’s been through everything in the game with me, and it felt weird not to play the game to completion with her. Two, well, I’ll get to that in a minute. I have to backtrack. I saw the next boss at Filianore’s Rest before I went on vacation. Much of this article is going to be devoted to him because he’s amazing, for many reasons. After I beat the Halflight, Spear of the Church with my utility caster, of course I went to the next area, which immediately transported me to a different place altogether. The fabled Ringed City in the title, the cutscene is breathtaking. I ended up at Filianore’s Rest, and I wandered through a beautifully terrible and desolated area. There’s sand. So much sand. And a furtive pygmy crawling on the sand, pleading for help from Filianore. He mentions something about the Red Hood coming to eat them, to eat their dark souls. As far as I know, this is the first specific reference to the dark souls of the titles, but I could be wrong.

I moved towards the obvious boss space and girded my loins. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the original furtive pygmy from the first Dark Souls seemed appropriate. Instead, it was someone eating the furtive pygmy’s dark souls, and that someone was…Slave Knight Gael????? What the hell? My buddy from the first DLC, the one who’s been guiding me every step of the way in this DLC, he’s the next boss? I have to say as much as I love the Souls series, there’s very little that surprises me any longer about them because I know them so well. This, however, surprised the hell out of me, and I applaud FromSoft for knitting the two DLCs together in such an ingenious way.

A little backstory: Slave Knight Gael is the NPC who tricks you into entering the Ashes of Ariandel DLC (through a painting) because he wants your ash to inflame the next painting of his niece or some such. (It’s more that he wants to end the endless cycle of flame.) That’s the condensed version of the first DLC, and at the end of it, his niece says, “Soon, Uncle Gael will bring me the pigment. I wonder if he has found it, the dark soul of man?” I also summoned him for the final boss fight of the first DLC, and he was invaluable in that fight.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Two

Ed. Note: This is part two of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. There will be spoilers, so if you plan on playing it and don’t want to be spoiled, turn away now. Here’s part one

aw, hell no!
Yeah, I want to fight them. Judicator Giant in the background.

After the Mausoleum Lookout, I wandered around and ran into these weird clerics who looked like turtles. I just looked them up, and apparently they’re the Turtle Clerics. They do these weird AoE spells that heals their buddies and takes massive chunks of your health. They’re fairly easy to kill with fire and/or if you flip them on their back. They’re annoying, though, because they their miracles track you, so you have to keep moving. I also ran into some ringwraiths! Not really, but they’re Darkwraiths with their orange darksigns very visible on their chests. They’re officially called the Ringed Knights, but come on. They’re ringwraiths. By the way, am I the only one who find the Nazgul to be cute? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I found my favorite armor set from Dark Souls II in this area, the Black Witch Set. It’s a set worn by the witch, Zullie, who was an outcast. It always amused me that the set is called the Black Witch Set when it’s actually purple, but I recently figured out that SHE’S the black witch, not that the set is black. Black meaning outcast, not the color. She first was mentioned in DS II, along with Alva the Wayfarer. At first sworn enemies, they became trusted compatriots. In Dark Souls III, he shows up as Alva, Seeker of the Spurned and invades you, which implies that they were separated at some point. He’s guarding Zullie’s set, which seems to imply that they were reunited at some later point. I also found the Black Witch Veil, which is what she wore while travleling to disguise that she’s a witch. I love the whole set, and it has decent defense stats for such light armor.

There’s a huge swamp in this area because of course there is, and there’s another Judicator Giant patrolling it because of course there is, and I stealthed my way throughout it because I just didn’t give a shit at that point. I wasn’t enjoying the game at all, and I just wanted to finish it. I hadn’t felt that way about playing a Souls game since the DLC from DS II, and I didn’t like it at all. I made my way to the second boss, and there was yet another dragon flaming up a bridge that I had to run over, and I felt nothing but impatience. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. All the set pieces of a Souls game that I normally find charming or that at least elicit a smile just made me roll my eyes. Another catacombs area that has a breaking floor when you chase a crystal lizard? Oh, please. I will admit when I followed Lapp’s questline and watched it morph into Patches’ questline, that was pretty damn satisfying. When he kicked me down the hole again, I just had to laugh and admire that Patches is Patches no matter what. That’s one standard of the games I really enjoy.

The second boss. Oh, the second boss. I found the coolest new weapon right before the second boss, the Ringed Knight Paired Greatswords, dropped by, you got it, a ringwraith. I can’t use it with my caster because you need 40 strength to wield it, but I love using it with my tank. It’s a dual wield weapon, so it’s best not to use a shield with it, which is not how I play at all, tank or no tank. I will say I love trying out all the strength weapons as a tank because I can’t wield them as a caster, not ever dual-wield, and they’re fun to play with.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part One

what a way to fly.
Batwing Demon transportation system still in effect!

Ed. Note: There will be spoilers galore as I delve into the final piece of the Dark Souls puzzle, The Ringed City DLC for Dark Souls III. I will be revealing locations, items, and boss names, so if you haven’t played it yet and want to be unspoiled, do not read this review.

I have finished The Ringed City DLC for DS III, and I have many complicated thoughts about it. I actually finished it a few days ago, but I’m currently trying to solo the final boss with my tank character who is NG++. I also have the optional boss to do with her, but I’m not sure I need to face that particular delight for a third time. I’m getting ahead of myself, however, so let me start at the beginning.

When The Ringed City released, I downloaded it immediately, but I hesitated to play it for three reasons. One, Dark Souls DLC are known to be brutal. Yes, I know the games themselves are renowned for their difficulty, but that’s nothing compared to the DLC, including the DLC for Bloodborne. Artorias of the Abyss, the DLC for the original Dark Souls, is legend for how much it will spank your ass the first time you play it. Many in the Souls community were not happy with the sequel, but they loved the three DLCs that came out with it. The first DLC for DS III, Ashes of Ariandel, was short and felt rushed, but the final boss of that DLC was phenomenal. I knew The Ringed City was going to be harder than the main game, and I don’t play the games for the sheer brutality of them. I hated DS II‘s DLCs the first time I played them because they felt hard for all the wrong reasons, and I was steeling myself for what The Ringed City would throw at me.

The second reason is because I’ve taken my two favorite characters through NG++ to the end, and the other two I had taken through NG were kinda hodge-podge characters. One started as a dex character, but I’m crap at dex and switched her to an all-around caster. The other is a faith caster, but with  enough intelligence to do pyromancies. In other words, they’re very similar. One I’d taken through the first DLC and one I hadn’t. The one I hadn’t ended up being the better overall character because she has the Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring, which masks her footsteps, and it’s essential to my play as a caster. I did try to take her through the first DLC at some point during the second DLC, but it was cut off to me. It’s unfortunate, but I’ll get into that later. I wasn’t going to play the DLC on NG++ my first time through, so I started with one of my utility casters. I had a hunch it wasn’t going to end well.

The third reason is purely a personal one. I hate the end of things, and this was the last new Souls experience I was ever going to have*. I haven’t watched the last season of Prime Suspect for this very reason, even though I love it and Helen Mirren. I knew once I finished The Ringed City, there would be no new Souls,** which was almost unfathomable for someone who’s been obsessed with the games for the past few years. Yes, I can keep playing the old ones and probably will, but this is the end. No more. It was hard to wrap my mind around that idea. I checked a few Steam reviews, and they were glowing. With that, I took a deep breath and took the plunge.

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Starting a Dark Souls Community for Scrubs

stab, stab, stab
Backstabbing in the Undead Parish, Dark Souls

I like the Dark Souls series* a great deal as any faithful reader of my blog knows. I’ve killed all the bosses in the first and third game solo at least once except for in the DLCs of DS III.  I’ve played through all three games at least twice, and I’ve gone through NG++ twice in DS III, once as a caster/pyromancer and once as a tank. I’ve put several hundred hours into all three games, collectively, if not more. I’m decent at them, though of the people in the so-called Souls community, I’m strictly bush league. It’s because I’m old; my reflexes and eyesight aren’t great, which makes the games significantly more difficult. So does playing as a caster, but I’ll get to that later. I want to get my credentials out of the way to still the criticism that I’m just a filthy cas (casual), not that it will matter.

I want to say that most of the Souls community are enthusiastic, helpful, and good eggs.  However, there is a very vocal minority of ‘the community’ who are, to put it bluntly, raging assholes. I’m sure this is the case in any gaming community (or any community in general, come to think of it), but it’s a very specific flavor of assholetry that is shown in the Souls community.  Any time I’ve perused the forums for tips, there are certain negative comments that I always find.  Because of that, I’ve often joked that I’d like to create a Souls community of my own for the people who enjoy the games, but aren’t doing SL1 runs (‘onebros’), naked, only punching enemies with their bare fists. I probably won’t because I’m not a person who plays nicely with others, but if I did, here’s a list of rules I would have for the members who want to comment in my forums:

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Exploring Dirtmouth With My Trusty Rusty Nail

i am your savior?
The things I’ve seen.

Ed. Note: I am talking about the game, Hollow Knight, in this post. There will be spoilers, but no boss names. Be forewarned. 

As I wander through Dirtmouth, tattered cape flapping in the wind, and my nail strapped to my back, I marvel at the lush but bleak environments surrounding me. I don’t say a word as I jump about, hitting bugs with my nail as I do. When I hit them, I get more bug juice to fill my orb, which is the stuff life is made of, and it’s also what later fuels my spells. Hey, I’m a caster at heart, so anything that shoots from a distance and takes mana to use it is magic, even if it’s not called that in the game itself. Game? Did I not mention I was playing Hollow Knight, the game I bought for myself as my birthday present? I wrote in a prior post that I was considering three games for my birthday and that this is the one that least fits what I prefer to play. To put it bluntly, I don’t like platformers. I’m old with slower reflexes and bad eyesight. Platformers are about finesse and precision and quick reactions. It’s an understatement to say that we don’t get along. However, Hollow Knight caught my eye while it was in development because of the graphics and because it’s a Souls-inspired game. I put it on my wishlist and forgot about it, until I was thinking of what game I wanted to buy myself for my birthday.

Side note: One of the reasons I might have a bad impression of me and platformers is because the ones I’ve tried are notorious for their difficulty. Let me hasten to add that despite my affinity for Souls games, I’m not the type to get all macho and seek out the hardest games to conquer. That’s not my jam at all, and the first hardcore game I played and loved was Torchlight, which has a special place in my heart. I still have it installed on my computer, and I will probably never uninstall it, even though I could use the space. Anyway, I mention it as a way to show that I’m not a games snob, only seeking out the hardest games to play. That being said, the games I’ve been drawn to and obsessed over have been more difficult than not. Cook, Serve, Delicious is a surprisingly hard cooking sim, and I played it until I 100%’ed it. I cannot WAIT for the sequel, btw. It should be coming out later this year.

Another game I obsessed over, surprisingly so, was Nuclear Throne–a colorful, charming rogue-like game in which there are several different characters you can take through the wasteland dungeons. Each has a different ability, such as Fish can roll. Crystal (the most player-friendly player) hulks out into a bigger crystal during which she is invulnerable. Perhaps my favorite character is Robot, who can munch weapons for health or ammo. It’s interesting to have different skills like this for the characters because after playing one character, such as Crystal, I found myself needlessly munching weapons as Robot, thinking I’d be hulking out. I stopped playing once I realized that I had hit a hard wall and would never be able to access the newest content because it was for looping the game, which was something I rarely could do. I have no hard feelings, but I realized it just wasn’t for me any longer.

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I Can Dance if I Want To…And Play Video Games

dance dance baby
Gotta move!

Good news, folks! I’m 95% recovered from the lurgy, and the aliens have decided it’s time for them to return to their home planet. One or two of them have stayed behind to nosh on my face, but they’re mostly full by now. I can actually run errands without having to take a nap afterwards, and I should be able to start increasing my morning routine again until I’m back to where I used to be. My appetite is back to normal, or, at least, what passes as normal for me, and I can interact with people again without it taking an enormous toll on me.

More importantly, I can game again! Hardcore game, I mean.  While I was sick, I played a lot of solitaire because that’s as much as my brain could handle. Now, I can play my beloved Souls without it being too taxing on my body or brain. Granted, Souls, especially the main game of DS III, is what I consider relaxing now, but still. It does take more energy than solitaire. I recently tried a game called Davyria, a Souls-inspired game that was on sale on Steam. I watched a few Let’s Plays before I bought it, and it looked like it might be up my alley. It’s VERY similar to Souls, but with an even worse UI. That’s saying a lot because Souls UI are well-known for being trash. DS III‘s UI is the best of the lot, but it’s still nothing to write home to Mom about. Anyway, it was cheap, and I liked the cell-shaded look to it, even if I wasn’t in love with the top-down perspective, so I bought it. I realized after I bought it that there was a free demo, but it was too late. I installed it, then tried it, eager to have another Souls-like experience.

Side note: Souls-like has become a genre of its own, and it’s been a frustrating genre for me. If the game is too much like Souls, but not as good, then I think, “I could just play a Souls game instead.” If it’s not like Souls at all, then I feel ripped off. I have yet to find one that hit the sweet spot of being enough like Souls to satisfy, but different enough not to be a pale imitation.

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