Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

A little bit of this…a little bit of that

I still am on a quest to find the One True Game (of the moment). I will note that I’m going through some personal shit at the moment, so that might be influencing my mood at the moment. I’m also dealing with health issues (which, sigh), so I’m not always up to trying something new. I’m not really up to anything arduous, including my beloved Souls. The only thing I can play with any regularity is Binding of Isaac: Rebirth*, and that’s maybe one game a day plus a go at the Daily Run. It helps that I only have to use the keyboard as well. It’s very minimal exertion, which is pretty much all I need at the moment.

At any rate, I’m trying to find other games. There is a Steam sale going on because there always is, and I picked up Vampyr, DMC 5, and Gris. By the way, I have a disgusting number of games in my shame pile. I can’t tell you how many because, as I said, it’s disgusting. Before the sale, I heard tell of a game called Disco Elysium. It’s a open world RPG detective noir game, and it sounded like it could be right up my alley. I have been searching for a lifetime for a detective game that is actually enjoyable and a good game. I have tried countless of them over the years, and I have only tasted bitterness and disappointment. The Sherlock Holmes games that everyone loves so much? Bollocks. I’ve tried five or six of them, including the most recent two, and I hated every minute. Well, that’s not completely true. There were glimmers of goodness, but overall, it was tedious, grinding, not good gameplay. The reason I kept trying is because people loved them so much. I thought I must have been missing something, but I finally gave up. Until they are done by someone else, I’m not buying another Sherlock Holmes game.

Side Note: Casual game devs get away with so much shit. I kind of put the Sherlock games in this category, but not quite as bad. They churn out the same game over and over again with the slightest tweaks–sometimes, not even tweaked at all. In addition, for the love of god, do not have a cut scene before I have a chance to mess with the options. I play casual games without the sound, and I turn off the sound as soon as I can. The Sherlock games are not that bad, but the basic gameplay doesn’t change at all. Or rather, it didn’t and then it did with the modernization of the games, but then it didn’t again.

Disco Elysium. I didn’t know much about it before I bought it. I knew it was dystopian and D&D based. By the way, ever since I started watching the Oxventures, I have a desire to  play D&D. Jane is playing the character I want to play–Prudence, a tiefling warlock who has dedicated herself to Cthulhu–but I found out from the interwebs that a tiefling warlock is so basic. I have a feeling that the D&D community is going to be a lot like the Souls community. Mostly good folks, but with a very vocal minority who blather on about the right way to play. Let’s face it. Mostly young white dudes because that’s how it is in most nerd communities.


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The feeling of MEH

I’ve been *sigh* fighting health issues this week. Mostly migraine related, but also sinus-related. Plus, I just got my period today, which I was expecting, but it’s never welcomed. I shouldn’t complain about the last, really, because I’ve been very fortunate with my period over the years. In my heyday, I got it two to three times a year for three days at a time. Don’t worry, I asked my doctor about it, and she said as long as I got it twice a year, I was fine. And, since I didn’t want to have kids, it helped me attain that goal as well. When I had sex on a regular basis, I had my period more regularly (damn body working against me!), but when I went without, my period was all over the place. Wait. In addition, it was light whenever I had it, and I never had too many physical side  effects from it. The worst of it was that I was a bit bitchier than usual and my boobs were tender. MAYBE I got a weak cramp here and there, but that’s it. Nowadays, I barely even know I have it, and I’m pretty sure I’m perimenopausal if not menopausal.

Anyway! Vidya games. The reason I mentioned my health is because when I’m feeling miserable, I can’t play ‘hard’ games. I didn’t even feel up to DS‘ing some of the days, and that’s saying a lot. To be honest, it was because of something stupid. I play DS offline for most of the game because I am human/embered up most of the time (I got gud, y’all) most of the time, and I do not want to be invaded. I hate being invaded in these games. I hate it because I suck at PvP, and I have no desire to waste time fighting someone. In addition, anyone still PvP’ing so long after the games were released means that’s all they do in the games at this point. In other words, my chances of winning are slim to less than none. I will note, however, that I have a better chance when I’m strengthcasting than when I’m pure casting. Magic is shit in PvP given lag issues.

I like co-oping in bosses, though. For whatever reason, you can’t switch from online to offline in-game or even while the game is playing (at least in DS III). So, when I’m up to a boss, I have to quit the game, go offline in Steam, and then fire up the game again. Also, for some inexplicable reason, FromSoft decided not to have Cloud Sync for DS III, so I had to start new games every time I switched machines. First world problem, but what a strange decision. Anyway, the irritation of switching from offline to online has stopped me on occasion from playing because I just can’t be bothered. In addition, while the game is no longer difficult for me, it can be tedious at times. It’s still a slog, and while I can play it mostly on autopilot, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be taken off-guard from time to time.


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The perfect game for me, er date?

In Friday’s post, I wrote many, many words about how I defined myself and how it applied to dating. It was purportedly about gaming, but I spent most of the post focusing on dating. Now, on a day when I’m supposed to be talking about personal issues, I’m going to focus mostly on gaming. Why? Because it’s funny to me.

In the last post, I left it off by describing how death in Dark Souls made me learn this game back and forth. Let’s take the Undead Burg because it’s the first real place you explore after the Northern Undead Asylum. You’re dropped at the Firelink Shrine by a big black bird, and there are three ways you can go. One, across the way by the skellies in the graveyard. Two, down by the mute Fire Keeper, then down again, to New Londo and the ghosts who don’t take damage (unless a certain condition is met). Three, up the stairs where there are more skellies, but manageable one.

One small gripe. Some people ‘in the community’ say it’s obvious that you’re supposed to go the third route because the other two are so hard. My retort to that the one thing everybody knows about the game is that it’s brutally hard. How the hell are you supposed to discern ‘too hard’ with adequately hard? Especially if you’ve never played that kind of game before.

Anyway, here’s the Undead Burg run. Go up the stairs from Firelink Shrine. There will be a boney to greet you. Then one jumps down as another chucks firebombs at you. There is an armored one further down the way, but I ignore him for now. After dispensing with boney number two, I go up the second set of stairs to take care of another boney, then firebomber, then two more bonies.


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The perfect date for me! Er, game

I think I’ve established by now that I am a difficult person to please. Not in the general sense, but in terms of what I like and don’t like. I’m horrible to buy presents for (just give me the damn money), and there are maybe three people who nail it every time. When it comes to popular culture, I’m sure I look like a contrarian from the outside. I don’t like much of what other people like. I keep my mouth shut in general because no one wants to hear someone expound on why she hates Star Wars, Senfeld, or Game of Thrones. Or, hell, why I hate movies in general. That’s a half hour rant in and of itself.

I’ve also been pretty open about the fact that I define myself more about what I don’t want/like/need than what I do. One of the biggest positive (or, rather, proactive) decisions I’ve made in my life is to not have children–which is in itself a negative (lack of something). I am NOT married; I do NOT work a 9-to-5 job; I am NOT a church-goer; I do NOT have children. Those are the biggies, obviously.

Then again, there are somethings about myself that are positive descriptions (what I am). I am…ugh. Even there I run into problems because I have qualifiers for many of them. I slap the label bisexual on myself because it’s the closest to what I am, but it’s not a label I truly embrace. I don’t like pansexual or omnisexual, and if I had to choose, I’d just say I was sexual. Not in a ‘no labels’ sort of way, but because like so many things about me, it’s amorphous. Take gender. I don’t think of myself as a woman per se–I mean, I’m not wedded to the term. I don’t think of myself as a man, though, and I don’t identify with nonbinary or gender fluid.

It’s because I’d rather step behind the labels and dissect what they actually represent. I also think about them as a matter of construct and how they don’t necessarily make sense in this day and age. If you think about it, in many situations, there really isn’t any reason to delineate someone by their gender except so we can have a preconceived notion as to how we should view them.

I can hear you asking yourself, “Minna, what does this have to do with video games? In fact, what the hell does it have to do with dating for that matter?” I’m getting there. One of the other things you should know about me by now is that I meander all around a point before actually making it.

More positives about myself: I study taiji. I love taiji weapons. I love cats, especially black. Shadow is my little buddy, and I love him with all my heart. I devour mysteries, and I write them as well. I love writing. I write an estimated 2,00,000 words a year. That’s a lot of words and why my keyboards don’t last very long. Even the external mechanical keyboard I got a month ago or so is already losing some of the lettering. It’s not a big deal because I touch type as long as the keys last, but it was touted to withstand a lot of pressure. I adore it, though. The heavy push as I press the keys, and the clacking sounds (but not actual clicking). It’s just delightful.

via GIPHY

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The Surge 2 dirge and asundry

The Surge 2. Let’s talk more about it. First of all, the stuttering and freezing is getting worse. I’ve done some fiddling with it, but it’s still there. I’ve always had a problem firing up the game as it took several seconds to launch and my computer would freeze in the meantime. With GeForce, it would try to launch and fail, try to launch and fail, try to launch and fail, and then finally launch. Most of the time, the enemy is hindered by the same glitches, which is good, but it’s really fucking frustrating. My computer should be able to handle this game no problem, so I don’t know what is up with the game. I have read that other people have been having the same issues, which means it’s probably a game problem and not a ‘my computer’ problem.

I find myself strangely reluctant to play the game, and I say strange because I like the game fine as I play it, when it’s not stuttering or freezing. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, either. Which in itself is weird for me. I have strong reactions to most things, and it’s rare when I’m meh about something. I also find myself trying to talk myself into playing the game more than I’m actually playing it. It was like this in the first half, but it really ramped up when I hit Delver, the boss I mentioned in the last post.

It speaks to the unevenness of the game that I can kill the enemies of the area with relative ease and then get wiped out immediately on the boss. And not in a ‘learn its moves’ way. In addition, the mobs are not done well. In my last session, I went through the beginning of the new area I’m in (again), and was reminded of one of the most frustrating things in the game–the difficulty imbalance. In this area, there is one of the robot dogs that I hate, one of the sniper shooters (A.I.D. officer), and another A.I.D. officer who all advance on me as a group. The only way to deal with them is to run back until all but one leash, and then beat that one enemy, rinse, lather, and repeat.

I just read a review of The Surge 2 that is spot on, though it is harsher on the game than I am. It suggests a fix for the freezing which is to play offline. It says you don’t get the hints from other players that way, but it would be a small price to pay. I’ll have to give it a whirl. Or not. The bigger points the review made about the game being a hodgepodge of other games really made me think. The reason I bought the game was because it was touted as a Souls-like. Or rather, the first game was a Souls-like, and this was supposed to be more in that vein.

It starts out that way, but then quickly morphs into something else. I was complaining to Ian how it shouldn’t be that I just level up my gear and myself to make a boss trivial, but that’s what I did. As I mentioned in the last post, I might have been slightly under-leveled for the area, but  it shouldn’t have made that much of a difference. Yes, you can over-level in Souls as well, but you still have to have some skill to beat the bosses. Or maybe it’s just my way of playing.

You can parry and block in this game–I just don’t. At this point, I pretty much just tank hits, bash the enemies, and continuously heal. I have plenty of core power, so I may tinker with my implants again so I don’t have to worry about my health at all. That will make the game so much easier, but as pointed out by Elijah Beahm in the review I linked above, it’s antithetical to Dark Souls.


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Feeling meh about The Surge 2

Let’s talk more about The Surge 2. I haven’t played much this week because while I enjoy* the game as I’m playing, I don’t have a burning desire to play it when I’m not. In fact, I oftentimes don’t have the wherewithal to play it, so I choose to play a game that doesn’t tax me as much. I love Souls games, obviously, but I have to be up for playing one. Funnily enough, I’ve reached the point with actual Souls** games where they are comforting gaming to me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have trouble in places. It just means that I know them well enough to turn my brain off as I play, especially if I play as a pyro or a strength-caster. Dark Souls III is my ultimate comfort game, and I have been thinking of playing it again instead of finishing The Surge 2. I’ll get to that in a minute, but let’s talk some more about Delver.

Delver is the nano beast underground who has three health bars. I have accepted, barely, two health bars, but I don’t like it. Yes, I understand that it adds excitement and tension, but it also feels cheap much of the time. I know it’s a staple of the FromSoft games, and they had one of the best ones in Sekiro (The Guardian Ape) ever, but I think it’s something that should be used sparingly. Having three phases?*** No. Now that I’ve said that, though, two of the three-phase boss fights have been amazing, and they were both in the DLC for DS III. Please note, however, that that meant fighting them near the end of the game. Yes, you can do the DLC earlier, but it’s not recommended.

Delver is halfway in the main game, and he is not optional. Come to think of it, I don’t know if there is an optional boss in this game. One of them I’ve fight *might* be optional, but I’m not clear on that. The rest, however, are not. Having a three-phase boss halfway through the main game sucked all the air out of me at that moment. I had no desire to spend hours battling this guy, so I Googled how to fight him. I stumbled upon a reddit thread (or a Steam thread. I don’t remember which) from a guy who said he had spent five hours fighting Delver and still hadn’t beaten him. Five hours! That’s how much I spent on several FromSoft bosses!  I was not willing to put in that much effort for this boss.

I’ve said before, but part of the reason I’m having more reluctance playing this game than the original is because it’s markedly better. The first game was a hot mess, and I pretty much accepted that. I played it without any expectations, and as a result, I had a good time with it. This game, however, I had expectations from the start. I expected it to be better than the first game, and it was–markedly. The environments are better; the graphics are better; the NPCs are more interesting; and the weapons are better.  Almost everything is better (though there is still a healthy amount of jank), and the bosses in general are…not sure better is the word, but harder is definitely fair to say. And more interesting.


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The Surge 2; the good, the bad, and the frustrating

So.  Let’s talk about The Surge 2. I’m still dealing with some shit physically, but I’ve been playing The Surge 2 on and off. More on than off, and I have feelings. So. Many. Feelings. I’m about halfway done with the game, which answers the question of whether I beat the first real boss or not. Who, by the way, is officially the third boss, but I refer to him as the first boss because the other two were tutorial bosses. In fact, in looking up the bosses for this article, I didn’t even remember the first boss at all. I mean, I had to fight him because I got out of the detention area, but when I saw his name, I was like, “What the fuck?” Even after reading about him and watching the video, I did not remember him. That’s how unmemorable he is, and I wouldn’t even call him a boss. We’ll get to that in a second.

Anyhoo, beating

*spoilers*

Little Johnny came down to sheer stubbornness on my part and something I mention often in playing Souls/Souls-like games: luck. There is always one or two moves by a boss that are troublesome for me.

Side Note: One thing I like about these games is how different people deal with different bosses. I’ve never had a problem with Gwyn, for example, and others took five hours to fight him. You’re supposed to parry him, and I’ve watched videos of people parrying him into oblivion. It’s a thing of beauty, and I really wish I could do it. More on that later as well.

I find in a good boss run, the boss doesn’t do the one move I hate that often. In the case of Little Johnny, it’s when he vomits the little spiders that shock you. He only did it once or twice in my successful run. Also, the stompy stompy bit. He didn’t do that much, either. I was pleased to be done with him and to be moving on with my life. Then, I encountered the area known as Gideon Rock, which was a microcosm of all I like and dislike about this game.

Let me just say flat out that gear is important in this game. In the original, I used the Liquidator set which was a light set with good resistance. Early on in this game, I wore the Scavenger set (Operator class) which was light, and the full set bonus was health regen on a finishing move. I will always take health regen over almost anything else. In Gideon’s Rock, I ran into an enemy that was way above my level. It’s called the GAIA Statue, and it’s a golden-plated statue that turns into a robotic enemy when you near it. When I first entered Gideon’s Rock, the statues had a red number–which meant they were waaaaay above me. I fought the first one right outside the hub for nearly an hour, and I didn’t manage to kill it once. I decided to run by it and continue on in the area.

I liked the new enemy type, Hunter, even if it frustrated me. They can go invisible, which they use to get next to you before trying to shank you. One thing I appreciate about The Surge 2 is that it has distinctive environments, which is so different than the drab industrial interiors of the original game. Gideon’s Rock is outdoors and very nature-based. I will say I had a chuckle at Metea Forest because it looked so much like a Souls‘ area, especially with the hunters, but that’s forgivable in my eyes.


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The positivity in negativity

I am a pessimist, and I have a negative outlook on life. I know it; I own it; I’m trying to change it. Or rather, I’m trying to modify it. I don’t want to ever be a blind optimist, though I know they live longer. It’s a funny twist of life–optimists live longer*, but pessimists are more realistic about life. Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking of negativity vs. positivity a lot this week because of several things I’ve seen/heard on the internet. One is a post on Ask A Manager about a coworker being relentlessly (I initially typed resentfully, which is a Freudian slip If I’ve ever written one) positive and forcing others to be positive as well. The reaction in the comments was swift and brutal–the coworker must be murdered, and no jury would convict. I had to laugh, albeit ruefully, because that was my response as I read the letter as well. The comments touched on the toxic positivity mentality that is prevalent in America (and I went down the rabbit hole of suggested links, also about this kind of forced positivity), which struck a chord in me.

I can hear you thinking, “Minna, what does this have to do with video games?” My response is, “Relax. I’m getting there. I’m just taking my sweet time as is my wont.”

I listened to the latest RKG podcast for producers, and one of the questions was from a supporter who had secured a job in games journalism. His main question was just asking for tips on how to be a good writer in the field, but he also touched on his guilt at being a white cis het man in a field that is, well, glutted with them. I’ll get to the second part later, but it’s the first part that ties in with the positivity/negativity theme. Gav went off on a rant about how he hated it when people immediately tore down something as their go-to. He was speaking specifically in the industry, and he said it was his pet peeve how people just wanted to rip on something new. Rory was in agreement with Krupa being a bit more tempered. Krupa pointed out that it’s not easy to write a negative opinion/critique well, which I agree with, but he wasn’t as on board with the ‘don’t be negative’ thing (possibly because he’s the problem solver in the bunch).

Gav said there was someone on Twitter that he follows who always is snarky about something new coming out. Again, I’m assuming in the field. The example he gave was the new Jurassic World movie in which apparently Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum are appearing in. He’s super-excited about it, and the aforementioned guy on Twitter posted something snarky about it. Gav was like, “Why can’t you just enjoy it for a second? Maybe it’ll suck, but why not just revel in it right now?” He didn’t say ‘revel’, but you get the picture.

Full disclosure, I’m touchy about people policing other people’s Twitter/FB TLs/Feeds because I’m a weirdo who doesn’t like what other people like and because I’ve had it done to me. Someone got mad at me because I posted so much about cold and snow on my FB page (heard about it through someone else), and I saw another FB friend post something about why do people who hate Christmas have to talk about it? Why couldn’t they just keep it to themselves? I hadn’t posted anything really anti-Christmas that year, but she certainly knew how I felt about it. I’m sure I wasn’t in the forefront of her mind when she posted her rant, but that’s kind of my point.

Here’s the thing. Those of us in the minority are usually well-aware that our opinion is not usual. Many of us keep 90% of that shit to ourselves for that very reason. Small example. I was at Cubs yesterday and exchanging pleasantries with another customer. I said something about the sun being so bright, and she said, “At least there’s no snow!” I laughed and said nothing, and we went our separate ways. Had I been true to my feelings, I would have blurted out, “I fucking love snow!”, but it wasn’t necessary to say that to a stranger.

Here’s the other thing. When you are in the majority about something, you vastly overestimate the times you hear about the opposing opinion.** Or rather, you don’t notice how many times your point of view is being vocalized. If you live in America, you can’t fucking escape Christmas starting from the day after Thanksgiving (actually before, but I’ll be generous). It’s everywhere, and it’s annoying as fuck if you don’t actually like Christmas/are indifferent to it/don’t celebrate it. Let’s say you read three posts on Facebook in a week about how Christmas sucks. You probably read a hundred pro-Christmas posts in the same time-frame, but because you like Christmas, it doesn’t even register in your brain.


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Hacking off more limbs in The Surge 2

 

party people!
If you like pina coladas….

I’m sick. Or rather, I have a ‘bug’ that is sapping my energy and my will to do anything. I’ve had to cut down my morning routine to the bare basics, and I’ve been dozy all day long. I have not played The Surge 2 for the last two days because it takes a lot to play that game. However, before I got sick, I managed to finally find the first boss. I don’t know why it was so difficult for me to get to him, but probably because when I play this kind of game, I wring out absolutely every inch of content I can. I will go on every side path, and I will do every fetch quest, er, side quest.

An aside: There is a bug in the game that if you don’t get your reward from a certain NPC the first time she asks, you don’t get to open the magnetic lift next to her. It probably doesn’t matter in the long run other than it makes it hard to get to her, but it’s annoying.

Aside II: There is an area right outside the first Medical Bay (not in the prison) that you unlock, kinda, but that is walled off by some bad-ass motherfuckers. Supercops, if you will. You can go in there, but you probably don’t want to. It’s the same with another area. It has two supercops walling it off, but I picked them off and went behind them. To my disappointment, there wasn’t anything I could do yet there. I understand that they’re trying to organically wall off areas, but if you can get there, there should be something there waiting for you.

In the second walled-off area, I decided to take a peek behind the three supercops. I did a stealth thing down the side road and picked off all the enemies along the way. I stealthed into the  plaza, then started running like hell because there were turrets and enemies and all kinds of bullshit.

Side Note to the Aside II: I really hate the turrets. Hate, hate, hate it. There is one enemy that has turrets and spider drones and rifle drones, and uses them all interchangeably. Yes, I have a turret drone and a rifle drone myself, but I don’t have unlimited ammo the way they do. Yes, Souls does the same thing with enemies having endless stamina/firebombs/whatever, so I know it’s not a novel idea, but it’s annoying and as frustrating as hell. Once again, I’d like to note that there is a really fine line between ‘difficult, but fair’ and ‘flat-out bullshit’. The Surge 2, unfortunately, crosses that line more than once.

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And now for something different

I’ve been cutting back on my Streets of Rogue obsession because of a little game called Children of Morta (which I call Children de la Muerta in my brain) by Dead Mage. It caught my attention while it was in development, and I watched in interest when it was released two weeks ago. I was still in the throes of my Streets of Rogue fervor, so I didn’t buy it yet. Then, I started watching NL play it because it was what he replaced Streets of Rogue with. I was immediately grabbed by the art style and the story, even though the narrator sounds like he’s trying to be Wayne June (the narrator of Darkest Dungeon). I also really like that the family is called Berson, and the individual names are Grandma Margaret, John (father, playable), Mary (mother), Linda (oldest daughter, playable), Kevin (younger son, playable), Mark (older son, playable), and Uncle Ben, the blacksmith. Oh, there is also Lucy, the younger daughter, who is (as far as I know) not playable. The graphics are pixelated and gorgeous, and it’s an epic story of…well, I’m not sure, yet, but it’s fantasy, and then to be playing as Linda Bergson. She’s my favorite, by the way, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

I was hooked from watching NL, and I quit watching so I could play it mostly unspoiled. I bought it yesterday, installed it, and I have to say it didn’t immediately grip me. Not because of the game itself or the story or the combat, but because of the controls. I was using k/m, and Left Shift/Q/R as common buttons felt awkward to me. I found out from Ian that you could use controller, which was my impulse in the first place, but I hadn’t seen any keyboard remapping so I erroneously assumed it wasn’t possible. Dark Souls has done this to me, and I’m not entirely displeased with it. By ‘this’ I mean being a console grrl and a PC gamer.

The controller felt much better, but with two weird things. One, the dodge/evade button is A. I tried it as B (forever the roll/dodge button in my brain), but it didn’t work because of weird thing number two. As Linda, you can use the right stick to shoot while you’re moving. In that case, hitting B to dodge is inopportune. I eventually settled on A (the original button), but I don’t necessarily like it.

Either way, I started over with controller, and I played two hours straight. I made it to the first boss and beat it in five or six tries. I came really close on my second try, but then I fucked it up. At no time did I feel as if the boss was undoable, and it’s in part because I saw NL fight it (and beat it on the second try). I did give John, the melee character a go, but he’s very vanilla and boring. Linda is ranged with a bow and arrow, and I like raining different arrows down upon my enemies.


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