Underneath my yellow skin

Games that stuck with me in 2017

I started a list of different games in 2017 that meant something to me one way or another. You can read the first part of the list here. I didn’t finish the list because it was getting long, so here are the rest of the games that stood out for me in 2017.

The best game that I wasn’t good enough to finish

Hollow Knight

I loved everything about this game from the minute my little bug-like creature starting smiting people with her trusty rusted nail. She was a big-eyed, rabbit-eared silent protagonist who was weary with the world, but she had a mission, and she was going to do it, damn it. I loved the gentle oppressive gloom that surrounded her, and I loved the gorgeous environments. I played through the second boss, and I loved the game with all my heart. However, there were two things that stopped me from continuing, and while one of them was tweakable (by the devs), one was not.

I suck at platforming. I hate it in the Souls games where it’s really awful, but I also hate it in games in which the platforming is the focus. I can jump from platform to platform if I concentrate hard enough, but I can’t do the jumps AND fight at the same time. In the beginning of the game, the platforming was low-key and manageable. When they started ramping it up, I was quickly out of my depth, and it was no longer enjoyable for me.

The other thing is that the currency received/prices of items ratio was way out of whack. Like Souls games, the XP you get is also the currency.  If you die, you lose it on the spot. If you die again before you make it back to your soul, you lose the souls forever (for example). In this game, you have to fight a shadow version of yourself to get your souls back, which is an added wrinkle. In addition, the amount of souls you get for killing enemies is a pittance compared to how much you have to pay for items is ridiculous. I remember I wanted to buy a key, and it was something like 900 souls. In a Souls game, that would mean killing one or two enemies (that aren’t the standard hollows), but in this game, you get 2 or 3 monies for killing each of the standard enemies. That’s a lot of souls to bank, and it took me a really long time to get that much. Then, the key didn’t even open up the lock I thought it would. How disappointing.

I love this game still. I just wish I could actually play it.

The game I’ve been screaming until I’m blue in the face for everyone to play

The Sexy Brutale

This is such an underrated gem, it’s a crime. Speaking of crime, it’s up to you, Lafcadio (Laffy) Boone, a masked silent detective to bustle around and prevent murders from happening. The one conceit of the game, and it’s a brilliant one, is to rewind one day over and over again to prevent several murders. I bought it on sale, and I wasn’t quite sure what to suspect. I loved the brightly-colored environments, the cute cartoon figures with masks, and the jazz music from the start, and while the controls took a bit of time to get used to, they were easy enough to understand. Syncing your pocket watch to various clocks around the mansion in order to make it your starting point (and to save) was a great idea, although it led me to frantically race around near the end of the game to get to the closest clock before the day ended.

I didn’t expect to become emotionally involved with the characters the way I did. There’s one victim that really resonated with me, and I took particular pleasure in saving her, and each of the individual murders were distinctive and fun to puzzle out. I will say that one hurdle I had to overcome was getting stuck in adventure logic. Adventure games are ridiculous in making you go all over, picking up bits of nothing, melding them together and making a whole new thing. I tried to do this in this game, and I really had to shed that mentality in order to be Laffy. The main point of the game isn’t solving the crimes–it’s  applying the solution in time. None of the solutions are overly complicated, and I had to stop thinking too hard.

I loved Laffy and his earnest attempts to save the fellow guests of The Sexy Brutale (the mansion) from being murdered. I loved the story and the denouement, and the final act was beyond my expectations. The art is terrific, and I enjoyed immersing myself in the world of Laffy Boone. Saving the last victim was emotionally satisfying, and I found the whole experience one of the best I’ve ever had with a video game. Play it. Play it now. That’s all I have to say about that.

A fitting end to my favorite series, no matter how much it pained me at the time

Dark Souls III, The Ringed City (DLC)

I saved this for last, of course, because Dark Souls is the center of my video world. I don’t think I have the words to describe what Dark Souls means to me. The original blew my mind. The sequel was a good game, if not great, and the third is the most replayable in my opinion. I’ve played it probably a dozen times all the way through, less so including the DLC, but I’ve played both DLCs at least a half dozen times. What I’m saying is that I know this game, inside and out, including the DLCs. I’m on NG++++ with my tank character, and side note, NG pluses is much easier than NG because you can pad your stats as you go. Also, while the enemies do get more health, it’s not that much more. On this current playthrough, I haven’t died once from an enemy or a boss. Side note II: I will say definitely that tank is WAY easier than caster, despite how people in ‘the community’ like to decry the latter for being baby mode. As a tank, I can smack enemies in the face and take hits in return, and I can shake it off like it’s nothing. Right now, I have a fat health bar that is longer than half my screen (laptop), and poise for DAYS. Also, since I have the option to stealth around (Hidden Body spell and Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring), I’m a tank ninja!

Anyhow, playing The Ringed City as a caster was brutal. Soulsborne games are renowned for the DLC being way harder than the base games, and I think FromSoft wanted to go out with a real bang with the final game of the Souls series. They also wanted to give fan service to the hardcore onebros who run around without any armor and beat up enemies with their fists. I understand why FromSoft has this mentality, but it means scrubs like me have to struggle mightily with the DLCs. I literally cried the first time I played The Ringed City after a particularly devious and difficult section. When I went back and played it as a tank, it was much easier. Now, I can breeze through it, but I still remember the first time when I thought it impossible, and shout-out to the asshole who camped out in the area to invade me. I really appreciate it. Really. I do. Asshole.

I am still not a huge fan of The Ringed City, but I can appreciate that it’s a fitting end to a series that prided itself on its difficulty. And, the final boss is one of my favorites of the series, even though he’s kicked my ass hundreds of times. Probably because he’s kicked my ass hundreds of times. These games hold a special place in my heart and I’m sure I’ll play them for the rest of my life. Now, if only FromSoft will remaster Demon’s Souls for the PS4, I’ll be one happy fangrrl.

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