Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

Not feeling…well, much of anything

I’ve been feeling shitty the last few days. I’ve mentioned that my sleep has been all over the map and I think I’m getting sick. Why? Because I only sleep more than seven hours when I’m feeling punk. Last night I slept…almost ten hours on and off. I’ve fallen asleep before midnight for the last three nights. That’s unheard of! And I’m exhausted in the morning. I mean, I’m usually exhausted, but this is very different. So, yeah, I’m probably getting sick.

Or, it could be because I gave up coffee again. I am drinking one mug of pomegranate green tea after I get up, but who knows if the caffeine content is the same as a mug of coffee? I don’t know what’s going on except I have trigger thumb with my left thumb which is fucking annoying. I don’t mind the pain in the base of the thumb so much, but the clicking is driving me crazy. I’m doing exercises for it and I ordered a heat/ice brace from Amazon, but it’s really frustrating. When it first started happening about a week ago, it was minimal and only happened once or twice a day for maybe five minutes. Now, it’s more often, harder, and for longer. It doesn’t really get in the way if I’m doing something, but any time I try to straighten or bend it and it’s wonky, it clicks. The click itself doesn’t hurt, but it’s annoying as fuck.

I know part of getting older is having things fall apart. I just didn’t realize how fucking annoying it would be. I’ve been able to stave off body aches and pains through taiji, but this is something that taiji isn’t helping. To be fair, it’s only been a week or so, but I’m used to taiji being on top of things.

Anyway, part of my sleep being so fucked up means that I’m in no mood to play games most of the time. I do a Hades run now and again–

Side note: For whatever reason, I cannot leave Hades on a completed run. I don’t know why, but it’s been like that for ages. I have to at least do a few rooms on Tartarus if not run through the boss of Asphodel.

Hades is comfort gaming to me at the moment because I’m still trying for that goddamn legendary fish, which means zero heat. But even that I haven’t played every day because I’m just so tired.

I still love Tales of the Neon Sea, though I haven’t played it in a couple days. I got to play a lot as William, talking to the other street cats in order to get information. As with many games of this type, I’m not enamored by the platforming sections, but it’s bearable. I adore the cats and their whole ecosystem. I would be perfectly happy if the game was just cats.

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Tales of the Neon Sea? More like Tails!

I’ve been playing more Tales of the Neon Sea by Palm Pioneer and am completely charmed by it. I wrote about my initial hesitations, but I’m all in. Why? Because of the cats, bay-beeeee! Also, murder mystery that is being handled well so far. I’m only two hours in, but I’m loving every second of it. Well, not every second, but most of them. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Let’s start with the murder mystery part. i have tried for years to find a murder mystery video game that I liked to no avail. I’ve played almost all of the critically-acclaimed Sherlock Holmes games, and not to put too fine a point on it, I hate them. I know this is a me-thing and probably because I had specific expectations for the game which were not in any way fulfilled. I wanted to be able to deduce and figure out murder mysteries. Instead, I had to do a bunch of typical point-n-click games like how to cross planks atop a building in order to get to the other side but some are crumbling. Plus, the trope of seeing a thing that you KNOW you’ll need at some point, but you can’t pick up yet. Everything I did took away from the mystery aspect and I never finished one of those games.

I also tried the Poirot game because I am a HUGE Poirot fan. But,  it was a crashing disappointment and I didn’t finish that one, either. I loved Paradise Killer, but it made me constantly nauseous and had to finally, reluctantly, quit. I played several point-n-clicks and fell off all of them sooner or later. The one that hurt the most was Kathy Rain. It was so great for the first two-thirds of it (as long as I ignored the usual point-n-click bullshit like endless backtracking and esoteric puzzles that only make sense if you’re high as a kite when you try to solve them) as a retro ’80s feel to it with a strong female protagonist. Badass who smoked cigarettes and drove a motorbike. There was an interesting story about her mother going crazy and her searching for answers. Her father disappeared and it was really building up to be something special.

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Black cat strut

black cat strut!
My newest BFF, William.

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I love black cats. Black is my favorite color and cats are my favorite animals. Put the two together for pure gold. If there is a black cat in a game, I will play it. Well, within reason. Not if it’s a Collar Duty* game or an MMO, but in general, stick a black cat in it, and I am all about it.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 by Larian Studios has a black cat, which makes it an instant classic. I haven’t played more of it, though, because I have to decide who I want in my party and I can’t decide. In addition, I have so many side quests going on, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I will go back to it, but I need to get my footing first.

Side note: I’m off caffeine again and it’s rough. I am exhausted, which is my normal state of mind, but it’s even worse. Once all the caffeine leaves my system, I’m hoping it’ll even out so I’m just tired and not bone-weary.

Ian gave me a bunch of games from his monthly Humble Bundle. One of them is Tales of Neon Sea by Palm Pioneer. It’s a cyberpunk point-n-click (I know, I know) with colorful graphics and cats! There is a black cat who is your buddy and I was already following it on Steam. The main character is a detective and there is a mystery, which is also up my alley.

I will say, I wasn’t immediately impressed with the game because the controls are a bit fiddly. I’m using a controller as seemed to be suggested by the game and the prompts aren’t precise. In the beginning, I’m dropped down and then some dude with a plague mask came after me. I promptly died trying to get away from him (I knew better than try to fight him).

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Ain’t no party like a D&D party

that black cat strut!
Best. Game. EVER!

I started another game of Divinity: Original Sin 2 because I felt like I needed a better grasp of the basics and the extra E at the end of mulan rogue (my name) was annoying me. This time, I chose conjurer instead of enchanter, which meant I started with the Pet Pal perk, which meant I could talk to the animals. I got to talk to a black cat, which makes it the BEST GAME EVER. I’ll get to that in a minute. I also talked to a squirrel riding an undead steed and he calls humans Giants–which is hilarious.

I made a few different choices, but mostly stuck to the same script. once we hit Fort Joy, the game really opens up. Basically, I’m a Sourcerer who has a collar forced on me to stop the Source. On the ship where the game starts, a powerful Sourcerer kills all the Magistrates on the ship and I try to save my fellow potential party members, er, NPCs. We all end up in the water and then I hear a voice urging me towards the light. I run across other potential party members who had similar experiences and quickly add them to my party. Red Prince, Fane, and Ifan Ben-Mezd. There are three others. Sebille, Lohse, and the Beast.

Now, I’ll be real with you. I wanted Sebille because she’s another elf and Lohse because she’s a conduit for the madness. And I wanted the Beast ‘coz I like dwarfs. But, I came across the other three first. And then I was like, “#heyboohey” to Ifan, whom I learned I *can* romance. I’ve played roughly five hours and I have to make up my mind who I’m including in my party. I’ve leveled up twice and I don’t want to have too big a gap between my party members.

Here’s the thing, though. I kept Red Prince because he could dig in the sand and uncover secrets. I don’t like him otherwise, but he’s my tank at the moment. I have a shovel now, however, so I don’t need his digging ability any longer. But there’s still the fact that he’s my tank. Fane is…something magical. And my healer. But I now have the ring that does restoration so I don’t really need him, either.

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Reluctantly giving up the (first-person) ghost

I gave up on Paradise Killer by Kaizen Game Works, reluctantly and with much regret, after I could not get it to not cause me nausea and headaches after playing for half an hour to an hour. I talked about my woes here and fiddled with it some more, including unlocking the FPS, but it just didn’t work in the end. I could have dealt with it if it just meant being sick and nauseous while playing, but it lingered for a long time after. In addition, when I thought about the game, the feeling would return. I’m really sad about it because I loved the game and was so excited to play it.

I played roughly three hours of it and can say with confidence that if you like retro and neon vibes with a high kitsch factor, murder mysteries that have the feel of ‘she had gams for days’ kind of prose and mysticism, and a lot of walking. I mean a lot of walking. A LOT. There is fast travel, but it costs a blood crystal to unlock at each save point (the game’s currency) and another crystal to actually use it. And you have to find the blood crystals around the island. You can probably get them in other ways such as doing side quests, but you have to shell them out for many things, including information.

I finally decided to try Divinity: Original Sin 2-Definitive Edition by Larian Studios, which is a D&D-based video game that is by all accounts the closest to the real thing. I tried the first game and did not care for it. As much as I would love to try D&D in real life, the idea of doing it in a video game stressed me out because I don’t like turn-based combat. I’m not one for mapping out my combat, which is probably why I just go for take damage/give damage when I play Souls games (along with casting).

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The first person blues

I get motion sickness. A lot. An hour in the car? Motion sickness. Flying? Motion sickness. First person games? Motion sickness.

Side Note (quickest side note ever): When my mom was trying to guilt me into going on a cruise with her (whole family), I brought up motion sickness as one of the issues. Not the main one, but a serious issue. My brother said that a ship is so big, I would not be likely to feel it. I Googled it, of course, and there are people who get motion sick on a cruise ship. It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take, especially since I did not want to go in the first place.

I can play some first person games with a lot of fiddling, but getting there is very uncomfortable. Nausea, a headache that threatens to become a migraine, queasy stomach, etc. If I really want to play a game, I’ll do it, but if I don’t care about the game, it’s easier to give up. Or even if I’m just slightly warm about it. I really liked Firewatch and suffered for half an hour as I delved into the files to fiddle with the FOV. Same with Borderlands, one and two. A little bit of three. Even if there is an FOV slider, it doesn’t always make the game playable.

My biggest regret is that I couldn’t finish What Remains of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow. It’s first person, which I didn’t know when I bought it. I had heard so many good things about it that I just gritted my teeth and continued. It was low-level nausea and headache at first, but then I hit the part where I had to fly and the urge to vomit was so strong and the headache was so intense, I violently recoiled. I immediately shut down the game and tweeted my regret that I couldn’t play it before asking for a refund. Sparrow Game tweeted me back saying I could either use the reticule or take it off (don’t recall which) because that helped some people. The thing is, I didn’t even want to open the game again because it had been such an intense reaction. I’m really sad because I’ve heard such amazing things about the game. I *may* try it again, but every time I even think about it, my body negatively reacts.

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GOTY–2 games above the rest

Ok, my friends. It’s finally time after weeks of build-up. This year has been sparse as far as games that I sunk my teeth into. I’ve outlined a few that were the equivalent of summer popcorn movie in this post here. There was one game I liked enough to give an actual award to which I wrote about here. Today, I’m finally ready to talk about my co-GOTY. I’ve written about both of them in length, but I have so much more to say. Since there are two, I have to talk about one of them first. There are two reasons for it. One, alphabetical order. Two, well, I’ll get to that later.

Before I get into all that, though, let me just give one obligatory honorary award first.

The game I’m desperately looking forward to but fear will never come out

Elden Ring (FromSoft)

With that out of the way, let’s get to my co-GOTY awards.

First up is a game that I was tempted to call The best game that I wasn’t good enough to beat until I was to continue a running joke and you know what? Let’s do it. Ready? Here we go!

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GOTY in a really strange year

*Bonus Post*

Ok. Yesterday I covered games that were ok but not great. I talked about not-platting Dark Souls and Dark Souls III. Now, it’s time to hand out my meaningless and silly awards, but be forewarned–there aren’t many of them this year. This has been a strange year (duh!) for games (oh) because on the surface, there have been a lot of games that have had people talking. Animal Crossing New Horizons (especially important at the beginning of the pandemic); AssCreed Valhalla (fuck Ubisoft. No, seriously. They should have gotten WAY more shit for covering up all the sexual abuse at their company), and; Cyberpunk 2077 (fuck CD Projekt Red as well for being liars about their game and about being ‘for the people’. Also, for all their blatant isms in the game). These are just three of the major games released this year and I have not played any of them. Then there were the social games like Fall Guys, Among Us, and Phasmaphobia, none of which I played, either. I did buy A Mungus, though. I’ve realized that I’m not going to get on the hype train for most games that other people like. There is one glaring exception to that which I’ll get to in a second.

Side Note: I don’t get why people find Phasmaphobia scary to watch. I get why it might be scary to play, but watching it does nothing to me. Then again, watching most scary games being played does nothing to me. Anyway. Whatever. Just a side note.

In the interest of full disclosure. There are three games I’ve flagged for my end-of-the-year awards. Two will be my co-GOTY while the third is an honorable runner up.

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GOTY–warm-up round

Last week, I wrote about the games that missed the mark for me for whatever reasons. This week, I’m talking about more games that hit the mark and games I played for a while before falling off them. “But, Minna,” I hear you say. ” It’s NY’s Eve (day). Why aren’t you talking about your GOTY?” Because I want to milk it. I’ll be real with you. There are three games I will talk about in the actual GOTY post and I’ve gone through way more games than that this year, though I’ve had to reread past posts in order to remember them. Ah, 2020. What a trash year that was both incredibly short and interminably long.

Anyway! Let’s talk about the one game I did play quite a bit of early in the year. In fact, it was the game I was playing when I decided to self-isolate because of the pandemic. Remember late February/early March? When we thought this would last a month or two, maybe three? When the panic over what it exactly meant hadn’t quite set in yet? When I thought I’d actually be able to travel in July for a wedding? Ah, good times. More innocent times. Back when we thought the end of the year would be more positive than what was happening at the time. And to be fair, there are glimmers of hope like the vaccine. It’s just, it’s been a really long and arduous year.

The game is AssCreed Syndicate by Ubisoft. I’m not an AssCreed fan at all. I tried 3 and hated it and I couldn’t get Chronicles to work with my keyboard (Dvorak). It was free, however, and I had nothing else on my gaming plate at the time so I decided why the hell not. In addition, I loved Evie. she was so badass even with her lout of a twin brother. By the way, she was supposed to be the sole protag but Ubisoft decided a female protag was Just Not Done. Same with Kassandra for Odyssey and Eivor for Valhalla, but femEivor is the canon one or so I’ve red. Given the rest of the grievous sexual harassment issues Ubisoft has, however, it’s not surprising that this is their mentality.

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Games that missed the mark–by a little or by a lot

In this year of our lord, Pandemic, there have been many games that I have tried, but few I have stuck with. I’ll get to those in a separate post, obviously, but for now, I want to remember the games that I picked up and discarded for varied reasons. We’ll go in chronological order just because it’s easier that way.

First up is Iceborne, the DLC for Monster Hunter World. Capcom. I poured hundreds of hours into the original and loved slicing my way through the game with my swax (switch axe). I had dozens of armors, painstakingly crafted to fight each monster. Everything was just so, at least until the Tempered Elder Dragons, when my enthusiasm started flagging. Well, Iceborne is a vault up to Master/G Rank, which means everything is more grueling and anything I’d accomplished up to that point meant jack and shit. I remember the feeling of intense disappointment when my basic swax did more damage than my most upgraded swax from the main game and the basic armor was better in every way than my most elite MHW armor. It was such a bummer and enforced my feeling that I had wasted my time playing the base game.

It didn’t help that any time I joined a group, the other players had clearly been playing since the main game came out. Like, all the time playing. I was the newbie and I did not like not being helpful. Yes, I was the healer, but there’s only so much that can get you. I wasn’t earning my keep and I didn’t like it. Let’s face it. I didn’t like Iceborne. At all. I’m not saying it was bad and I’m sure people who only play Monster Hunter loved it, but I fell off it really quickly. I never took on Fulgur Anjanath, which I talked about at the end of this post about the game. Here is a second post about my feelings on the game and how I would feel guilty if I quit. Obviously, I got over it and I gave up the game for good after realizing I wasn’t having any fun with it. I haven’t looked back since.

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