Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

Mental health and gaming

This has been a shit week. Yesterday, for a brief moment, there was the exhilarating news that the remastered/remake of Demon’s Souls (by FromSoft, but the remake is being done by Bluepoint games) was going to be on PC. That brightened my entire week, and I was so stoked. I mean, look at it.

If you know anything about the game and even if you don’t, you gotta admit it looks amazing. If you look very closely at the end, you’ll see it says it’s coming to the PC. And there was much rejoicing! What a boost on an otherwise shitty day (well, the day itself wasn’t shitty, but that’s not the point).

Then, later in the evening, it all came undone. It turns out that it was NOT coming to the PC, no how, no way. Nuh uh, why would you think so never mind the text that said it would actually come to the PC? Oh, that? That was human error a rep of Sony said. Was never meant to be! Look over there. *flees*

Ok, that wasn’t exactly what happened, but it’s how my brain interpreted it. The human error comment is real but the rest is just head canon. What Sony said in the walkback  was that the text in THE ACTUAL GAMEPLAY TRAILER was human error and that the remake of Demon’s Souls was a PS5 exclusive. Period.

To which I say, bullshit. Why? For several reason. One, the push for Dark Souls on the PC played a significant role in catapulting the series to the lofty heights it enjoys today. Two, it wouldn’t have been in the text if it wasn’t a consideration. Three, because I want it to be bullshit.

Look. I know they were in a hard place when this snafu happened. The hype the PC announcement created could not be put back in the box. PC gamers (and I am one) are rabid about our PCness and our gaming. Souls fans are on another level. So, yeah. I can see how they would be cringing at this point. Let’s face it. There’s no satisfactory response except, “Why, yes, it’s coming to the PC.”

Here’s what I think happened. A Demon’s Souls remake is big. Fans have been clamoring for one for years. Screaming for it. Pleading for it. Offering their first born children for it. I don’t think it’s a leap to say that it’s one of the top two things most requested by FromSoft fans* and with the arrival of the PS5, that seemed like a perfect time for the remake to be released.

Given this as a backdrop, it makes sense that Sony would want it as a PS5 exclusive/launch game. I don’t blame them for selling their consoles however they can. My theory is that they wanted it to be an exclusive for a year or so (which is more or less the timing of exclusives) before announcing the PC launch.

At least, I hope that’s the case. If it’s not, then I guess I will not be playing Demon’s Souls for the rest of my life, which is sad. Or, I’ll do what I did for Bloodborne–buy a PS4 (PS5 in this case) years later at a ridiculously low price in order to play one game.

Anyway. Back to the shitty week part. One way I can tell how depressed I’m getting is what games I play or more importantly, don’t. Oh wait. We have to go back because that’s the way I roll. I am picky about the media I consume in any form. I’ve written about this in the past so I’m not going to rehash the details. Suffice to say it’s difficult to find things I like/click with, and I don’t gel with far more things than I do. When I do, I  play the hell out of them but it takes me forever to get there.

Actually, that’s me in general. It takes me a lot of energy to do anything even something I enjoy and if I’m not enjoying it, I abandon it pretty damn quickly. So in the case of gaming, it takes me forever to actually buy a game. Unless there’s a demo that I immediately like such as Spiritfarer.

Ah, Spiritfarer. Can we take a minute so I can reminisce about how much I adore this game? Ok, minute over.

I try to give each game a fair shake, but I know myself. If something doesn’t grab me within five or ten minutes, it’s never going to do so. You may think Dark Souls is the exception to the rule, but it’s not. While I ended up hating the game by the end of the first playthrough, it had me grabbed the entire time.

On my best days, I can try a new game and see what I think of it. On my worst days, however, I don’t have the energy for that. I know it sounds very twee and precious, but, yes, I need energy to try a new game. Just like I need energy to, say, go to the grocery store (not these days ‘coz I’m not going there no way no how) or make dinner.

On the days when I just can’t, there are games I keep in my back pocket.

Here’s another monkey in the wrench. Is that the phrase? It is now. The Souls series used to be my go-to, specifically Dark Souls III. Ever since my two non-plat runs, however, I’ve been on a break of sorts from the Souls games. Note I say that I have two of the plats. I do not have the plat for Dark Souls II for a few reasons. I started with the original game because that’s what Krupa (of RKG) was doing. Then, I moved to DS III because that’s my favorite of the three. Then, I was completely wiped out and done with it. I put aside all the games indefinitely and have only now started diving back into them again. And by them, I mean the third game.

I’m currently re-watching a few Let’s Play of the original game, and I kinda want to play again. I started up the third game again and it’s feeling good. I’m watching a playthrough of the second game and, well, it’s complicated. I want to play it again, but I know if I do, I’ll try to not-plat it. I don’t want to not-plat it, mind you, but it’s just how I am.

Anyway! The one game I can play no matter what is Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.** I’ve put so many hours into it–no, not gonna tell you how many–that I could play it in my sleep. There are a few new rooms even now which is interesting, but it’s as familiar to me as my skin. I would like to note there is going to be another update soon. I’m reaching the point of new content fatigue, but I know I’ll play it, anyway.

Here’s the time when casual games really stand out. When I can’t handle learning a new ‘hardcore’ game, I can fall back on a solitaire game or a hidden object game and still get a gaming fix without putting too much effort into it. I used think it weird that I would flip back and forth between hardcore and casual games on the regular, but I’m fine with it now. It’s a nice way to unwind on a day when I’m stressed out, anxious, or just plain distressed.

I still can’t wait for Elden Ring, though.

 

 

 

*BB II is number one. Not going to happen, my friends.

**Obligatory yes I know that’s not the current iteration of the game but it’s the one I want it to be.

Spiritfarer is my GOTY so far

atul in his first form.
Hello, Uncle Atul. Want to board my boat?

In a year that has blown all the chunks all over the place AND has thus far had nary a word from FromSoft on Elden Ring, Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Game has blown into my life like a breath of fresh air. I tried the demo which was fifteen minutes long, and I immediately fell in love with the game. It’s bittersweet, lovely, charming, and very emotional. Last week, I wrote about my issues with the game, but emphasized that they did not take away from the game overall.

I will note that there’s one additional issue I have with the game and this was a rather big one. There were two passengers whom I could not stand. I realize that it’s part of the bigger picture–not everyone in our lives is someone we like. Also, there’s a reason Stella has run into this wide array of people (something I found out in a newsletter but was not made clear in the game). While I understand it on an intellectual level, I still reacted to these two characters with a visceral dislike.

The first was one of two brothers. Bruce and Mickey. Mickey was a water buffalo who didn’t talk. It became clear that he was comatose and his brother, a hummingbird, was caretaking for him. Bruce was a huge asshole, and I actively avoided him as much as I could. In addition, the rest of the passengers’ moods were negatively affected by the brothers as they all ‘felt bullied (ha)’ by Mickey. His story was really sad, but it didn’t balance out how incredibly unpleasant Bruce was. When I took them to the EverDoor, I was so relieved to get rid of them. I felt some sorrow for them because of their story, but I was happy to see the back of them.

The other was Elena, a dog. I think a greyhound or something similar. Something lithe and sleek. She’s an ascetic who is very monk-like in her Spartan attitude. She’s also a complete asshole. She was a teacher in life, and she took  pleasure in breaking her students who she viewed as beneath her. She’s the one who assigns you timed events, and if you don’t do them to her specifications, she berates you. I felt bullied by her, and I stayed away from her as much as possible. Yes, there was a poignant reason why she was the way she was, but at that point in the game, I didn’t care. She’s the passenger who didn’t like to be hugged, by the way, not to anyone’s surprise.

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My Spiritfarer wishlist

all the sheep.
So much work, so much time.

I finished Spritfarer last night. I’m not ready to talk about that because I need to digest it, so I want to talk about the issues I had with the game instead. Before I do that, however, I want to note that this is in contention for my GOTY. I mean, it is my GOTY so far, and I have a hard time believing that something is going to replace it because no way Elden Ring is releasing this year. Sigh.

::pours one out for Elden Ring::

What I’m saying is that it’s a fantastic game. I adore it. It made me laugh, and it made me cry, cry, and cry again. I poured over forty hours into it in a little more than a week. I would hop on to play for half an hour or an hour and five hours later….It’s fucked with my sleep even more, but at least it’s something I wanted to be doing. I 100%ed the game, and I found most of the secrets. There are a few chests and such I didn’t uncover, but otherwise, I know every inch of this game.

I say all that because I want to emphasize that my wishlist for Spiritfarer (by Thunder Lotus Games) is not about hating the game but about wanting to make it even better. No game is perfect, and it’s my nature to discuss everything about something I love–including the flaws. It’s the way I roll so here we go.

One of my biggest issues with the game is the platforming. I’ve said before (and I’ve said it so many times), if a game isn’t a platformer, the platforming usually sucks. The Dark Souls series is a perfect example of this in that each game has a platforming section that is utter balls. Platforming demands precise controls, and in games where that isn’t the focus, well, let’s just say that it can be frustrating for those of us with shitty reflexes.

In order to explore this fully, I have to talk about the full slate of abilities you can get in this game. Fair warning about spoilers and such. The game is backloaded with the more advanced abilities, which is another issue I have with the game. In fact, let’s talk about that first. The abilities are Jump which you get almost right away, Double Jump, also an early ability. Glide–somewhere around the middle.

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The Spiritfarer of my heart

nice place you got here, Alice!
Hello, Alice. It’s nice to meet you.

Very rarely does a game worm its way into my heart that I can’t stop playing it and I can’t stop thinking about it. The Souls series, natch, and Night in the  Woods (but only after I started my second playthrough), and…that’s about it. There are other games I’ve loved (Torchlight; Borderlands; Binding of Isaac: Rebirth; and Cook, Serve, Delicious! to name a few), but there aren’t many that I think about when I’m not playing them.

Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games is one of those games. Last night, I was going to play for a half hour before going to bed (after having played two hours earlier) and ended up playing for three hours. I had to perform my second spiritfaring, and it broke my heart all over again. I’m going to have to do the third one fairly soon, and it doesn’t get easier. More on that in a bit.

You’d think a game about death would be depressing, but it isn’t. Somber and reflective, yes. Painful? Also, yes. But it’s not depressing, and I’ve been musing over why that is. I’ve come up with a few answers, so here they are. One, despite the potentially grim subject, there are moments of humor that make me laugh out loud. For example, there is a predatory entrepreneur raccoon named Theodore. That’s funny! Why? Because to me, it’s a gentle poke at Animal Crossing, a game that is similar in feel. There’s a character called Tom Nooks, who is a predatory lender. You can see why I made the connection. I thought it might just be me, but then later in the game, someone calls him out and says, “Raccoon. Tanuki. Whatever he is.” That confirmed that it was a joke about Tom Nooks because he’s a raccoon in the west and a tanuki in the east.

The game also has Metroidvania aspects as you acquire abilities that allow you to go back to previous areas and do things you couldn’t do before. I appreciate that, but I will say that some of the gameplay aspects are my least favorites–such as the double jump/glide. When it works, it works fine. When it doesn’t work, it’s really frustrating. The problem with games that aren’t focused on those kind of gameplay is that they’re not optimized to do it well, so it can be haphazard as to if it actually works or not. But this is a minor quibble and by no means restricted to this game.

One thing I really appreciate about this game is that it’s not all puppies and roses. What I mean is that we tend to sanitize death in the Western world, most likely because many people haven’t had to see it up close. In addition, we are loath to talk about death in general, so for many Americans, we view it through a hazy lens. It can be romanticized, even, in that the person dying is an angel and can do no wrong. In this game, the passengers have their flaws, and they don’t magically disappear as they are at death’s door.

*Spoiler*

Let’s take Alice the hedgehog. She’s the one I took to the Everdoor last night, and it hit me hard but in a different way than Gwen. You see, I didn’t like her that much. I didn’t dislike her, but she was too motherly for my taste.  She did cook me food, however, which was nice. But, I spent as little time with her as possible. I felt guilty about it, but she just wasn’t my type of person.

Side note: One thing about each passenger is that they are associated with one of the buildings. Gwen (sob) was the loom and Alice is, was, the orchard. They teach you about the mechanics, but it’s funny because I normally get the building before I get the passenger so by the time they want to teach me the mechanics, I already know them.

Per my usual M.O., I put off helping Alice with her main quest for as long as possible. This was not personal as I like to do side quests and resource stuff as much as possible until I pretty much have to do the main quests for better resources and materials. I did a bunch of main quest stuff last night, and each time, it opens up the game even more. For example, now I have the glide (by holding up my hat) which is holding A while in the air and ziplining. I have to go back to old areas and zipline and glide all over the place.

When I finally tackled Alice’s main quest (and a little before, I think), I noticed that her memory was starting to fail her. She talked about her husband, Eugene, in the present, when it was fairly clear that he was dead. She also talked about her daughter, Annie, and while it’s not clear what happened to her, she sometimes thought I was her daughter. After I did her final quest for her, then she really went downhill. She told me I was smothering her and that she needed her space–which annoyed me because she was the smothering one. She  also started calling me Annie on a regular basis and she gave me Annie’s beach clothes.

Another passenger came to me and said that Alice couldn’t climb the ladders any longer and could I move her house to the lowest level? Of course, I did. Then, she needed me to escort her to and from the prow where she spent all her time. She no longer recognized me as Stella, but seemed to think I was Annie more often than not. When she didn’t think I was her daughter, she fretted about where Annie was. One night, she was on the prow and refused to move. She mentioned that Annie was wearing her beach clothes and a red hat, and, well, I had Annie’s beach clothes and a red hat which I’d been wearing.

I put on an outfit and went to the prow. Alice was looking out at the sea, and when she saw me, of course, she thought I was Annie. Then, we were off to the Everdoor, and I started tearing up again. I reflected on how cruel Alzheimer’s was, and I think they did a good job depicting it. Not only with the memory lapses, but with the meanness of her telling me that I was smothering her when that wasn’t the case at all. There was no arguing with her, and I could only leave her to her own devices. Next time she saw me, she was the same as before, which was warm and motherly.

As I boated her to the Everdoor, she still went between recognizing me as Stella and thinking I was Annie. She said that Eugene would love this (the area) and that we should all go next year. Watching her from the outside was so painful, and I actually felt that death would be a release for her. Plus, if you believe in the afterlife (which, eh), then she will finally get to be with her husband. So, yes, I cried as she rose into the air and became part of the stars, but it was more at the sorrow of her pain than sadness.

*Unspoilered*

The game is really good at giving you information in a clear way, usually through interactions with your passengers/NPCs. The problem with this is that for someone with OCD tendencies like me, I feel compelled to do all of them all the time. For example, you have to water your crops, and there will be a raindrop signifier if they need water. I cannot walk by when I see that symbol, no matter what I’m doing. That’s on me, yes, but it adds a low-level stress. In addition, having to repeatedly do certain things like feed your passengers (different foods based on their personalities, and you can’t feed them the same food twice in a row. Well, most of them, anyway) which means cooking which means crop harvesting, well, that has worn a little thin at this point.

The thing is, though, none of the negatives are anywhere close to deal-breaker, but they do add up to a minor irritation. They don’t take away from the overall experience of the game, however, and I’m ready to take on even more spiritfaring. This is my life for the foreseeable future.

 

 

The emotional side of Spiritfarer

*Bonus Post*

Ed Note: I will be discussing a specific incident in the game with a fair amount of detail. Needless to say, the whole post is basically one long spoiler. 

i wish i could make it all go away.
I feel your pain, Gwen.

I have nine hours into Spiritfarer, and I have finally done the titular job. Not after dragging my feet for a few more hours, mind you, but I really wanted to see what it was like more than I wanted to just meander around and I finally, reluctantly, did what I’d been putting off for hours.

Gwen is the first passenger I took on board, and I felt an instant affinity with her. She was a caustic, jaded deer who had seen some shit, let me tell you. She constantly smoked, and it was clear that she had a wall around her carefully crafted to keep everyone out. A few hours into the game, she requested that we go to the island where she used to live with her parents. She had told a few stories that indicated her father was an abusive jerk–emotionally, if not physically. She didn’t say anything about her mother until the very end, but it was enough for me to imprint her story over my own.

She mentioned she wanted to visit her home villa (on an island!) fairly early in the game. I, of course, ignored her and went about my merry business building up my boat and tending my crops. And cooking.

Side note: Because I tend to put off the main missions for as long as I can, I don’t get the necessary resources I need when the game wants me to get them. In this game, it doesn’t matter because the game doesn’t punish me for not progressing. Which I much appreciate. Around the five hour mark, however, I was itching to see the actual spritfaring mechanism so I reluctantly acquiesced to her request.

At her villa, she was contemplative and somber. It was clear that she was running from her demons, and I ached to help her however I could. I couldn’t, though, which made my heart hurt. We went back to the boat and soon after, she informed me that she needed some space. Um, ok. Don’t know how you’re going to get space on a boat, Gwen, but you do you. Later, she’s in her house, and I try to open the door. Usually, all the doors on the boat are open, but not this time. She’s locked the door, and I go away feeling worried about her.


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Spiritfarer is the game I need right now

a predatory raccoon, you say....
Are you sure your name isn’t Tom?

I’ve been floundering for a new game ever since I completed the Dark Souls III platinum. The problem is that my taste in games is very eclectic, quixotic, and random. They span different genres from roguue-like-lite to story-rich indies to Dark Souls. Not ARPGs. Not Soulslikes, but Souls games themselves. Games I used to love (Torchlight and Borderlands) are doing nothing for me in their current iterations, even though I desperately want to like them, I just….don’t. I was looking forward to Mortal Shell, which released on August 18th. I was going to buy it, but then Ian told me that Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games had released on the same day, and my interest suddenly pivoted.

I had heard of it ages ago, and I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous hand-drawn art. The artstyle is simply lovely, and looking at it was a balm to my beleaguered soul. And, the premise of the game was intriguing. You play as Stella, a young, dark-skinned woman, the titular spiritfarer, who takes over for the fabled Charon in ferrying the dead to the next world. While wearing a big, floppy hat with a star-shaped hat (get it?). And your cat, Daffodil. Whom you can pet, cuddle, and swim with.

When I went to check it out on Steam, I saw there was a demo. I tried the demo which was relatively short, and I was hooked. I bought the game, installed it, and fired it up.

It calls itself a cozy management game, and it is. But, it is so much more than that. I tried Stardew Valley after watching someone play it on YouTube, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. It felt tedious and repetitive, and I put it away after an hour. I wanted to try Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but I didn’t have a Switch and couldn’t get one.  It seemed to me that Spiritfarer could be my ACNH, and after five hours playing it, I can say that it definitely has that kind of vibe.

In the demo, it was further into the game when you help one of your passengers finish their earthly business so they can leave this mortal coil. Starting a new game, I wondered how long it would be until I had to do this for someone. It was in the back of my mind, but not pressing because there were so many other things to do.


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Carrying a torch for Torchlight III

Looking good, sharpshooter.

I love Torchlight the original. I’ve written before that it was the first ‘hardcore’ game I played in my current iteration, and I adored it. Torchlight III was released in Early Access about a month ago. I bought it because I wanted to relive my TL experience, which was not to be. I wrote about my first impressions in this post, and then I let the game sit for a month because the technical glitches were annoying. I wasn’t mad at the game, but it wasn’t fun to play.

I went back to the game a few days ago after the latest update and a hard wipe. There were several changes, some for the better and some not so great. One, they changed the way relics worked. Back when I first played, you found them? Or something? And then you could change them and decide which you wanted to use at any given moment (and upgrade whichever, if I remember correctly). Now, you have to pick the relic in character creation, which means you can’t change them.

I wasn’t happy about it because I liked being able to change the relic. I couldn’t quite understand why they made the change, but I just shrugged and moved on. I made a Dusk Mage, of course, and I chose Blood Relic because health drain all the day long. Plus, my first skill was a spinning blood sawblade that caused bleed, and it looks so fucking badass. But, I am a fire person, through and through, and that was one of the relics as well. So was ice. Those are the three that I really wanted. Poison is boring as fuck, and electricity is fine. Just fine.

Some positive changes: connectivity with no problems. No being kicked out of the game and no not being able to warp. One weird thing, though, was trying to set a town portal and not being able to do it. I was three or four areas ahead of where I was supposed to be, and when I went back to where I was supposed to be, I was allowed to open the town portal. I didn’t know if that was a glitch or a progression hard stop. I couldn’t set the waypoint, either, for the latter area, so I think it’s a progression stop thing and not a bug.

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Let’s hear it for the (fan) bois

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! by David Galindo (chubigans) just got the last update (still in Early Access! I’m curious to see if there will be anything new added before it’s officially released), and it’s a corker. It’s a cooking competition called Iron Cook Speedway (how droll. It’s a common theme of the games), and it’s done in an arena? I think? But simulates the road? Or it’s really the road. Anyway, the cool thing is that Northerlion and his wife, Kate, are in the last update! They are the commentators of the cooking competition, and it was really cool to read that they were in it.

They play Chuck and Gretta, and it’s really delightful. Probably because I’ve watched NL on and off for years, and I love that his avatar looks so much like him with a goofy hat. Kate’s avatar is relly cute, too, and it incorporates that she normally colors her hair different colors (in the game it’s light blue). The repetition of their lines gets a bit samesy, but it’s a small niggle.

A bigger niggle, however, is that the difficulty is ramped up to a hundo in the final update. Look, I get it. It’s the culmination of the whole game, and the whole game is predicated on being difficult. Lots to do at a frantic pace, and you can’t really let up your concentration too much unless you’re doing old days again (as I’ve done for comfort).

One of the new things introduced in this sequel was the food truck attacks. I’ll be completely honest with you–I fucking hate them. As soon as I could buy the  upgrades to stop the attacks, I turned them on and never looked back. I did try one day without them on after I finished the rest of the content, but I quickly turned them back on because it was harshing my mellow. I understand why they were included, and I think they were good in concept. I’m sure there are people who like them, and I did like working towards earning enough to get the upgrades one by one to block the attacks.

However. In practice, they drained much of my enjoyment because the way I play, I try to get into a groove with each day, and they didn’t allow me to do that. Yes, I know that’s the whole point, but it felt…like filler. I know it’s the second sequel and I know there’s pressure to keep it fresh.

Side note: I have always maintained that one of the reasons Dark Souls II (you didn’t really think I’d not mention Souls in this post, did you?) was reviled so much was because it was in a Catch-22 situation. Dark Souls was so original (if you hadn’t played Demon’s Souls), there was no way to make a sequel that could capture the same sense of discovery and surprise as the original, but if they deviated too far from the first game, well, then people would be pissed about that as well.

What I’m saying is that I don’t blame a developer for including something new. They have to do it, and one thing I loved about DS II was that it had fast travel from the start. It’s one reason I played it more than the original game. In Dark Souls III, they switched from having specific number of casts for magicks to having mana (Ashen Estus Flask). I was skeptical about it at first because it meant less of the regular Estus for me, but once I played enough, I was able to see the brilliance in it. There were 15 Estus Flasks total, and if you were a pure melee character, you could have 15 regular Estus*.

I fiddled with it throughout the game, and I discovered that the primo ratio for me was 2:1 regular estus to ashen estus. So, in the end, I had 10:5. I changed it up for the boss fights, but that served me well.

Back to CSD 3. Once I had the food truck attack gimmick under control, I enjoyed the game much more. And that’s exactly what it feels like to me–a gimmick. I mean, it makes sense in the game world, but it feels as if it was just tacked on. Or as if chubigans had the idea in his head first and was determined to shove it in no matter what.

Again, I get it. It’s new and fresh and different. It certainly makes a chaotic game even more chaotic. But I hated actually playing with it on. This brings me to the newest and last update. The food truck attacks can’t be blocked. It doesn’t matter how many upgrades you have–and I have them all–you have to deal with the food truck attacks during every. goddamn. day. Not just one, either. There are at least two (except for the days that had three stops) during each day and sometimes three. Maybe four? I don’t remember I haven’t done the endurance days yet (eight stops per day), but I would surmise there might be five or six.

I hate it. I really hate it.

Side note II: I have to comment about my way of playing these games. I only allow for gold days, which means no mistakes. Why? Because I know that I’ll want to do that in the end, anyway, so why not just do it the first time around? I have written more than once that I do not like that gold days are predicated on perfection. That is neither here nor there, however, as it’s been that way for all three games. I have managed to get all perfect days for the first two games, and I got all the achievements in the first game (before the massive update). I got almost all the achievements in the second game except for a few of the stress day ones. And, I’ve gotten all the achievements in the current game prior to this update.

As to the last point, though, I had many theoretical tears while trying to get the last few. These achievements were getting a gold on certain days with ridiculous requirements. There have been plenty others of these, but I was able to figure out how to get them done.

Here’s the thing. These achievements are not skills, really, they are about finding ways to cheese the achievement as best as possible. There are a few ways of doing this. One is having as few prep stations as possible. Seven is the lowest, and keeping a handle on that is the best way to deal with any day. The problem is that you get -1 on the required points list for every extra prep station. My personal M.O. is to only use auto-serve dishes (ones that don’t take more than one step) because then I can just push them out without thinking about it.

There are a few days where none of the dishes are auto-serve, and that’s frantic as fuck. I hate, hate, hate those days. I also hate random food days because I don’t get to choose. I will say that the random food days in this current update were easy-peasy because there were no points requirements, so I just used all 0-point dishes, which meant all were auto-serve. Did I feel guilty about it? Hell to the fuck no, but it underlines that it’s more about gaming the system than getting good at the game.

I’ve noticed before that the games I love are ones that tend to ramp up in difficulty the longer they’re around. I have a ceiling for my skills, and I can feel when I’m bumping up against the ceiling. I felt in the DLCs of DS II and the DLCs of DS III. I felt it hard in Sekiro. it’s the Keeper in Isaac (the MegaSatan fight), and it’s this update in CSD 3. Like I said, it started nudging me at the end of the last achievements, and now, it’s swirling around me completely. I’ve managed to finish half the stops (A-E, I think. Each letter represents an area, and there are different days within each letter), and I’m not looking forward to the other half.

This is for the hardcore fans, and while I understand why and appreciate it, it means that it pushes the game beyond me. Yes, I finished DS II, III, and Sekiro. I have not finished the Keeper (and this is beyond the True Platinum, which I have), and I’m not sure I’m going to finish this last part or the achievements related. Could I do it? Probably. Do I want to put in the incredible amount of work TOO do it? Not sure. We’ll have to see if I continue to play or not.

 

 

 

 

*Focus Points is the official name of the mana in the game, FP for short. In addition to being the marker of mana, it’s also what you need for your weapon arts.**

**Weapon arts is another new thing introduced in the third game, and it’s wonderful. Don’t want to talk about it in this post, however, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll just leave this here.

Close to throwing in the towel

Life is not great at the moment. Still. I’ve been unable to try new games because when I get like this, I revert to comfort. DemonCrawl even though it’s…not great, for example. I recently reinstalled Binding of Isaac: Rebrith. It is very soothing for me to play now (except when I get no upgrades in my skill and a ton of health so I can’t die), and I don’t really have to put much effort into it. There are a few games that I’m interested in that are coming out either in the near future or the undetermined future, but I’m pretty underwhelmed by the big games that other people are hyped about.

Let me come out and say it. I hate what I’ve seen from Cyberpunk 2077. It’s probably the most anticipated game to come out in some time, and everyone else seems to get more hyped about it over time whereas I am not even lukewarm about it.

Let’s roll it back a bit. Cyberpunk 2077 is the newest game of CD Projekt Red who made the huge hit, The Witcher 3. My boo, Geralt of Rivia, was the protagonist of that game. It was an incredible game, and I put probably a hundred hours into it. I did have a bit of a qualm about how white the game was (yes, set in Poland) and the fact that all the women were sexy and fuckable whereas the men were allowed to be of all sizes, shapes, cleanliness, etc. I also grew weary in the last few hours of the game. I blamed that on myself, however, because I tend to binge on games until I’m absolutely glutted. In this case, it was because I was in some cave with a witch, and I had to find my way out of it instead of her simply transporting me out when the quest was over. The map didn’t help, and I became increasingly lost. I almost quit, but I knew I was really close to the end. I don’t remember how I got out, but I finally did. I’m pretty sure this was a mandatory quest, and I was pretty pissed that I had to do it.

The ending I got was worth it, though. Spoiler warning, I guess if you don’t want to know one of the several endings for The Witcher 3. I chose Triss over Yennefer, and I retired at the end of the game in a small house in the woods somewhere. Ciri takes up the mantle of witcher, and there’s a very touching scene between us before I got my epilogue. I was extremely satisfied with my experience in the game, if somewhat burnt out by the end. Then the first DLC dropped. I eagerly snapped it up, and…I fucking hated it. The main antagonist is a violent, arrogant, narcissistic prick, and I have a really difficult time dealing with them given my personal history.


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Malaise gaming is default gaming

Really struggling with depression and anger at the moment for several reasons. Was going to write a post about the sexual harassment and toxic culture of Ubisoft but was not up to it. Instead, let’s talk about comfort gaming. Right now, I’m on a Souls break, and I think it has to do with the lingering exhaustion I feel from the DS III platinum. That really sucked out the enjoyment I had with the game, and I will be honest. Trying to do a character on the PS4 to help Krupa didn’t help. Don’t want to get into that either.

Side note: There’s a dude in the RKG group who is insistent that grinding for the covenant items is doing it the ‘wrong’ way. And he says it every time someone mentions it. Now. Is PvP’ing for the items the official way to do it? Yes. I am not disputing that. The covenants are all co-op based, so the fact that getting the items through the covenants means it’s supposed to be done by co-op. However. It does not mean that getting them by grinding enemies is the ‘wrong’ way. It’s in the fucking game. Every one of the items you need via covenant can be done by grinding, so that definitely means it’s not the ‘wrong’ way. Is it the less preferred way? Yes.

However, this guy is so insistent on co-oping being the correct way to do it. In addition, every time I say that I jump off a cliff rather than fight an invader, he feels compelled to say that I should learn to PvP because it’s fun. no matter how many times I tell him it’s not fun for me or that I suck at it. He said that when I first started playing, I was bad at PvE but now was good at it through practice. I said I was still mediocre at it, but there were ways around that. I didn’t say it, but I was thinking that I wanted to get better at PvE whereas PvP leaves me cold. Also, it’s ableist to assume that everyone can do PvP. I have shitty reaction times for more than one reason, and that isn’t something that gets better with practice.

It’s frustrating because I can see his point of view, but he can’t or won’t see mine. It’s a very white young male point of view, and it’s frustrating to keep banging my head against it. He’s by far the only one, but he’s the most persistent one. In addition, he’s put in nearly two thousand hours into DS III so he eclipses even me in my play of the game.

I’m finding myself less and less enamored of the RKG group in general. There was a racist ‘joke’ meme posted to the group last night by someone I like in general. Oh, same as the guy above. I like him in general. I’m just too old and tired and Asian and female for this shit. It’s not that I feel as if I don’t believe but that I am in the group on sufferance. It’s like that with any group, really, though. As lang as you fit into the parameters of what the group defines for itself, you’re accepted. Most of the parameters of this group are good, but the ones that aren’t, really aren’t.


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