Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

Hitting the wall hard–with infinite ammo

I’ve been mainlining Streets of Rogue hard as is my wont, and I think I’m hitting the proverbial wall. I’ve talked before about games I love that I’ve quit playing because I reached a certain point where I just couldn’t get better at it. Nuclear Throne, Dead Cells, Enter the Gungeon, and Hollow Knight all fit into this category. Notice that three of the four are rogue-lites/likes/whatever the nomenclature may be, and that’s what Streets of Rogue is as well, though it crosses over into other genres as well.

I wrote about it last week, and I couldn’t stop gushing about it. It’s strange because when I first started playing, I wasn’t that into it. And yet, I couldn’t stop playing it. I’d die, and then I’d play ‘one more run’–which turned into six or seven other runs. I wasn’t into the game the way I was into, say, Nuclear Throne, but I kept pressing the Q button (to go back to Home Base before starting the game) every time I died.

I didn’t talk much about the things that frustrated me about the game, which I’ll do now. It’s part of the reason I think I’m nearing the end of my time with Streets of Rogue, so I might as well expand on it. I did mention the lack of tutorial, but that’s minor in the grand scheme of things. Another thing that isn’t huge but is more irritating is that the different playable characters are so varied in terms of playability. Of course that depends on style, but for me, the Soldier and the Cop are by far the OP characters. Then, there are the ones that are middling such as the Doctor and the Vampire, and then there are the ones that I just suck at such as the Hacker and the Bartender. I’ve beaten the game with the Soldier*, the Supersoldier, and the Supercop. I reached the Mayor Village with the Cop and killed him, but after running around the level and making a beeline to pick up the hat, a Supercop killed me. That was literally the last second I could be killed before winning the game, which really sucked.

In thinking more about the different characters, I get more irritated because I cannot grasp the playstyles of several of them. I tried the Investment Banker last night, and I quite liked her. I played her because I wanted to unlock a mutator that could only be guaranteed to proc by going into debt with her so the Assassins show up. You need to kill an Assassin to unlock one of the mutators, and I had seven or eight of them waylaying me as the Investment Banker. I didn’t get her at first because her Big Quest (something each character has to do throughout the game, and it’s thematically appropriate for each character) is to make sure she doesn’t go into withdrawal, which meant mainlining drugs all the time. Which costs money. She starts with loads of money, but it goes quickly. What I didn’t realize is that many of the pills also count as being hopped up, but they’re not cheap, either. Now that I have a better handle on her, she’s more fun to play. And, now I understand the trait ‘Status Effects Last Longer’ and why I would choose it.


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Streets of Rogue? More like streets of rage!

In my search for the One True Game, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a game that while I know it’s not the One True Game, it’s pretty damn addictive. It’s called Streets of Rogue, and it’s made by one man, Matt Dabrowski. I repeat, it’s made by one man. That’s pretty incredible given how polished and in-depth the game is. In some ways. I’ll get to that in one minute. I was intrigued by the description of it as Nuclear Throne/Enter the Gungeon meets Deus Ex because I adore the former (especially NT) and did not gel with the latter. It’s a top-down twin-stick rogue-like (or maybe an actual rogue! Who knows these days?) city sim and a half-dozen other genres. I’m saying this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek because that’s the tone of the game in general. Very madcap and campy and a load of fun.

Let’s start at the beginning.  You’re thrown into Home Base where you meet the Resistance Leader. He gives you a speech about the mayor and how terrible the latter is. The mayor’s so bad, he banned chicken nuggets after one negative incident with them, so chicken nuggets become the currency of the game. The graphics are pixelated and cute, which can be off-putting for some people, but I find it adorable. There is customization, but very rudimentary. A few different hairstyles and colors, but it makes a world of difference that I can make my cute little avatar a woman. And look vaguely Asian.

There are seven starting characters and nineteen characters you can unlock. That’s twenty-six characters in total. Each of them have special abilities and perks as well as negatives in some cases such as the Zombies and Shapeshifters. I will say that the tutorial is not great. You’re given the basics, but each character is not explained well. I’ve had to look at the wikis more often than I care to admit, which can be frustrating in the middle of a run. Oh! Each character has a Big Quest that you try to fulfill throughout the game. The Soldier, for example, has the Big Quest of disabling all the generators on each floor. Here’s the thing. In looking that up to make sure I got it right, I learned that by completing the Big Quest, you’re granted a Super Special Ability that you can use on a new run if you choose the Super Special Abilities mutator before the run. In this case, it’s free ammo reload at the Ammo Dispenser and the Loadout-O-Matic. I did not know this because the game does not tell you this.

It seems as if I’m beating the tutorial drum a lot lately, but it’s important. I understand that there are wikis and such, but one, they take time to be written, and they are not necessarily accurate. I also understand that for one dude, it’s easier to crowd-source to the community than to do it himself. I also blame FromSoft a bit for this or rather the rabid Souls fans because they have set the standard for a truly incisive community. Blame is not the right word, more like attribute it to. When I played Dark Souls III in real time (as opposed to several years later), it was really hard because the wikis were so sparse! Anyway, now that Streets of Rogue has been out for almost a month, the wikis are more fleshed out. I still can’t find all the answers to my questions, but 90% is better than 40%.

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Still searching for the One True Game

just a girl and her sword
Cass, The Warrior Nun stands proud.

Still looking for a video game that I can pour hundreds of hours into, and I’m starting to think it doesn’t exist. I mentioned in last week’s post that I installed Killsquad, developed by Novarama. It’s a MMORPG, I guess, it’s definitely meant to be played multi. You can play it solo, which is what I do, but it’s structured to be played with others. Massive, endless hordes that swarm you, and I don’t know if there is a timed respawn if you go back to old areas or if I just went to a slightly different area, but there were more hordes. There was one time yesterday where the mobs kept coming, and it was at least five minutes of the same goddamn enemy.

First the positives. It’s a great-looking game. I like the graphics and the characters. I’ve tried all of them (four) several times each, and they are distinct in their abilities. Weirdly, the two ranged characters, Zero and Troy, did not gel with me. Normally, I’m all about the range, but they felt underwhelming in this game. The other two, Cass and Kosmo, are the melee characters. Cass was my go-to before I even started the game because she’s a woman and The Warrior Nun. Unfortunately, she’s also a glass cannon in that her damage is high (supposedly), but her health is low. Kosmo is a surprise candidate for my favorite character. I didn’t like him much when I first started. He’s a tank with a big, fuck-off hammer which I found unwieldy at first. But, he has a shit-ton of health and a regenerating shield. Plus, he levels up much faster than Cass, which I found odd. For whatever reason, I get more enemies when I  play as Kosmos–which I don’t understand at all. With Cass, sometimes I don’t even get to Level 6 (which is when you get your ult), but I regularly make it to Level 10 with Kosmos. Vector 20/25 for reference. We’ll talk about Vectors later.

Actually, let’s talk about Vectors now. I started at Vector 5, and I assumed it was equivalent to levels. During the game, I leveled up, and then afterwards, I was still Vector 5. What? Huh? I played a few more games, and I had to repeat the leveling up in the game and my Vector remained the same. I finally looked it up, and Vectors have nothing to do with leveling, at least not the level of your character. Vectors are based on the level of your equipment, which is not explained anywhere in game. You can buy weapons and gear from a robot called…ROBBIE STE3L. Anyway, it gives you unidentified items that are higher than whatever Vector you are, and you can buy character-specific weapons or general gear. Your characters can share the gear, but not the weapons. More than one character can wear the same armor at the same time, for example.

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Hope is fading…like the First Flame

I hate video games. This, obviously, is hyperbole, but it’s starting to feel true. I tried Furi this week, and I couldn’t get past the tutorial boss. Before you tell me to git gud, n00b, hear me out. I knew going in that Furi was a hard game. It’s all boss fights, and each one is difficult in its own way. That’s all I knew going in. Oh, and that the protagonist is in jail and has to fight the jailer to get out. That’s all I knew firing it up, and I was prepared to have my shit pushed in time and time again. What I wasn’t prepared for was how fucking irritating the jailer/warden, whatever the fuck his name is. I’m going to call him FuckFace just because. No reason. Anyway, he talks waaaay too much. Maybe it’s because I play Dark Souls and Monster Hunter, but I’m not interested in someone flapping his lips at me as I’m trying to kill him. Yes, there was Micolash in Bloodborne, but he was fucking annoying as well. Not as annoying as The Jailer, though. He’s sneering and pompous an supercilious. And he won’t. stop. talking. He fancies himself a dom with me as his unwilling sub. He talks about killing me again and again and again. Blah, blah, blah.

I could tolerate that, barely, if it weren’t for the fact that he has eight phases. Yes, you read that right. Three of them are tutorial, and you heal to full after each one. But, so does he. Then, in the fourth phase, shit gets real. He starts attacking you with everything he’s got, and I died to him a few times. I also noticed myself doing damage, but then seeing he had full health. What? Oh, right. He has a fucking shield for each phase. So you have to kill the shield before doing actual damage to his health. You get three lives to do five phases (plus shields), and I just–no. I did not want. I set down the controller, uninstalled it, and sighed sadly.

The thing is, I think it’s a good game. I really do. I just think it’s above my pay grade, and I don’t want to put in the work it would take to get firmly mediocre at it. Plus, I hated listening to The Jailer being such a jackhole. In addition, there were two other things about this guy that made me turn off the game One, there are bullet-hell aspects to the game, which I do not enjoy. The other is that you have to learn to parry.

*SOUNDLESS SCREAM*
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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.

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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