Still feeling pretty shitty, though my migraine is mostly gone. Still lingering nausea and headache, but nothing I can’t power through. The thing is, though, when I feel like this, I can’t really play anything difficult. Or rather, it’s not something I want to do. Mostly, I just loll on the couch and watch videos on a low volume, trying not to vomit. Or at least just dealing with the feeling of nausea because I don’t involuntarily vomit.
There are some games I can play without really thinking about them. One is DemonCrawl by Therefore Games, which is a Minesweeper rogue-lite about fighting, naturally, demons. It’s too random, and it feels like RNG Jesus has to smile down on you in order to actually win a run. There’s too much guessing, and there is not enough tutorial. There is still a bunch of stuff I don’t understand, and I haven’t gotten any of my crafting slots or whatever they are unlocked. I looked it up, and you had to beat the game on normal in order to unlock them. Just did that, but you also have to find blueprints in chest? Apparently? Who knows? Look. I’m used to playing games with opaque or no tutorials. I’m a FromSoft fangrrl for fuck’s sake. But, there’s a difference between a tutorial that is just goo through it and learn (FromSoft) and, what, a tutorial that actually explains the mechanisms about the game? Hahahhahahahha (DemonCrawl). Or maybe I’m Stockholm Syndrome with FromSoft games, which is entirely possible.
Speaking of, I finally got summoned in Krupa’s plat-run. It was weird because I got summoned on my TV, but I didn’t see it on stream. I assumed I had been summoned by someone else (though it would have to be someone in the stream as we were using a password), but then, ten seconds later, I showed up on the stream. I was watching my TV screen more than the stream, and I was confused because the person who summoned me was wearing the same hat as me–as was Krupa. That’s when I realized he had probably summoned me, and I needed to get my head in the game.
I sucked as a summon. I was pretty sure I would because my way of playing the game is very stealth-based. It’s harder to do in someone else’s world when you’re going through the area with him, and we were in the dreaded Catacombs. I had my Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo going on, but it’s harder to tell when it expires in ghost form. Two of the whirling dervishes (Carthus Swordsman Skeleton) were on me the second I became visible again plus the invader who decided to go straight for me. Krupa had three summons, but one died immediately. The other one didn’t appear for whatever reason, so it was just me and Krupa. I knew my duty was to protect him, so I kept the enemies engaged (and the invader) and immediately died.
I felt really bad and embarrassed because I didn’t help at all (cold comfort that the other two summons didn’t, either), but I also had suspected that would be the case. You get less health, half your Estus, and nerfed to the level of the summoner. All of which makes sense, but it means that I am not great, even with my beloved Lorian’s Greatsword. the problem with my character is that I’m not really powerful until NG+ and beyond when I’m maxed out on all my spells. I’m sitting at the end of NG with my PS4 character, but I don’t know if I’ll put down my sign again. I honestly think I’m better in chat, but it’s a bit depressing because it’s my favorite game.
Two games I’ve tried recently from the Steam Summer Sale are Monster Prom by Beautiful Glitch and Murder by Numbers by Mediatonic. I had watched MP on a stream, and even though it was a dating sim, it seemed very creative and fun. I liked the art style and the fact that you could choose the gender of your protag (one of four), including they. Less impressive was that they still said ‘felt like the best blowjob’ if you chose nonbinary, which was the same for if you chose male. If you chose female, by the way, it said ‘felt like the best orgasm’ or something similarly bullshitty. I mean, if they were going to say bj for dudes, then it should be cunnilingus or at least eating pussy/out for women.
Anyway! I enjoyed the gameplay for the first few playthroughs, but I didn’t like the fact that you could do everything right and get only positive responses, and still not get the date at the end of the playthrough. It’s all stats based, and if I didn’t get a certain level in certain stats, I wouldn’t be able to get that date. I didn’t look it up because I preferred just play the game. But, around the fourth or fifth playthrough, I started to get frustrated. I was trying to get the answers that would get me the right responses for that character and that situation, but the choices weren’t obvious, and you had to have enough of a certain stat in order to make that choice go well for you.
I will say that I love the graphics and I love the cheekiness of the game. There’s a secret ending I got that had a character declare, “Glory to Merstotzka”, which is a reference to Papers, Please. I loved that I got the surprise ending by being terrible and that it ended in an assassination, which was what I was aiming for in the first place.
The problem is, at it’s heart, it’s a dating sim that is gamefied. the one reason I loved Dream Daddy so much was that there weren’t levels and stats. Yes, there was still gamefication (it is, after all, a game), but I didn’t have to worry about about numbers. In this game, I had to constantly fight the urge to look up what numbers I needed in which stats to get that yes. There was one run when I was really hitting it off with the robot, and he even wanted to have sex with me (in a robot way). Everything up to the point of date asking went wonderfully well. I buffed up my smarts because I thought that would be the pertinent stat. Then, when I asked him to prom, he turned me down cold. Each run is either 30 minutes (short) or 60 minutes (long) (though actual gameplay is shorter for both), but it still feels like a waste of time when you get nothing but ridicule at the end.
In addition, a lot of the dialogue is the same, so you run into the same conversations over and over and over again. I’ve played maybe ten runs, and I found myself impatiently pressing whatever button it is to skip, meaning I also inadvertently picked the wrong choice when pressing buttons on automatic. I really like the fiery protag, but I do the worst with that character. One day, I just suddenly quit because I was tired of doing well for thirty minutes and then nothing. There are apparently hundreds of endings, and I had seen maybe twenty? Probably not even. But I had reached the point where if I was going to continue, I would be looking everything up to ensure I had the exact stats needed to get the right answers. And where’s the fun in that? I put down the game and didn’t return, but I’m not mad. I had fun while I played it, and I like the heart of the game. I just didn’t care for the execution, but that’s the fault of the genre, not the devs.
Next game. Murder by Numbers. It’s a picross game, which normally isn’t my jam. However, it’s also a cheesy ’90s murder ‘novel’, and I am here for that. I had a hard time whenever they showed the cop because I’m pretty anti-police at the moment, but the fact that it’s all cartoon-y helped. Also, the main character, the one I play, is named Honor Mizhari. She is clearly not white, which is appreciated. Also, the cute robot buddy, Scout, is beyond adorable. Anyway, the first case was fine even though the story and characters are very cringey. The picross was fun and not too hard, and I moved onto the next case. Immediately, we’re introduced to Honor’s mother, who amplifies every stereotype of the shrewish, nagging, shrill Asian mother. She yells at Honor for divorcing her husband and says Honor should expect her ex to treat her badly because she divorced him. Um, what?
It was deeply unpleasant, and I gritted my teeth as I continued. The mom continued to be incredibly repulsive and grimly misogynistic, and even though I knew it was meant to be satire, I hated it. By the way, people, just mimicking the attitudes of the past is not satire. It’s not even funny. Then, they bust out an older male character who uses the line, “Must be her time of the month” as a gag, and I was done. Any good will the game built up in the first case was completely wasted in the second. I will not be playing the game any longer, which is a shame because it’s a perfect ‘lazy play’ game.
I was going to talk about the Mortal Shell Open Beta (Cold Symmetry), but I have a lot to say, and I don’t want this to be a three-thousand word post. I’ll shelve it for now and leave you with this teaser: It’s the first game I’ve been really excited by in a long time–but also worried.